Can you imagine being able to look at a tree that was around when Mt. Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii and Stonehenge was being built? Or a tree that was so tall it was used by the Seminoles, and other Native American tribes, as a landmark? And did you know such a tree grew in Florida?
The Senator, believed to be the oldest and largest Bald Cypress tree in the United States (and eighth oldest tree in the world) was such a tree. At its peak, the Senator reached a height of 165 feet, but was shortened by a hurricane in 1925. Sadly, this magnificent tree was burned down in 2012. But, its charred remains can still be viewed today – its massive 35-foot stump a testament to its former greatness – at Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida.
Just forty feet away along the same boardwalk, Lady Liberty gracefully towers over the park at a height of approximately 89 feet. She is considerably younger than the Senator and, although we should never ask a lady her age, is believed to be approximately 2000 years old. Her trunk has a circumference measuring approximately 35 feet. When gazing up at her, one wonders what secrets she could tell…
Thankfully, not everything was lost with the Senator’s unfortunate demise. For, DNA had been extracted with the goal of cloning this amazing tree, which possessed extraordinary defenses against disease and capability for quick growth. The Phoenix, derived from one of the Senator’s grafts, is now thriving at the park and evidently taking after its predecessor. Grafts have also been taken from Lady Liberty, so that she, too, may live on in the form of new trees, in the event she does not survive.
Would you like to see and experience these beautiful trees and learn more about their fascinating history? Big Tree Park is located at 761 General Hutchison Pkwy, Longwood, FL 32750. It is open from 8:00am to 6:00pm daily.