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After pestering my flu-infested father for three days, he finally felt well enough for us to visit the Angel Oak on John’s Island , which some people consider to be the oldest living thing east of the Rocky Mountains.

It’s a gargantuan live oak (Quercus virginiana) that is estimated to be 1,400 to 1,500 years old. It was a sapling when Arthur was trying to beat back the Saxons in England.

Live oak is an interesting bird. It’s more of an evergreen tree in some ways. There’s a young live oak outside my dad’s front door in Charleston, S.C., and today it still has all its leaves. It doesn’t drop its leaves until the new ones are ready to come in.

The wood is also interesting. It is one of our heaviest native hardwoods (55 pounds per cubic foot when air dried). Like its other oak brethren, it is stiff and strong. The live oak was prized for shipbuilding, however now it’s difficult to find commercially.


 

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