Heart of Louisiana: Live Oaks
MANDEVILLE, La. (WAFB) - Living in the South, you can see some rather impressive live oak trees. There is actually a Live Oak Society that keeps track of the biggest of those trees, including a 1,200-year-old tree that is the ‘president’ of that society.
They are the grand monuments of the southern landscape, with massive strong arms. Their elbows brace themselves on earth to support an evergreen crown that’s fashionably draped with Spanish moss. Their shade is an oasis from the summer sun. They create archways to majestic homes, and conceal the stark dwellings of slaves and sharecroppers. For some, the live oak has human qualities.
“There’s something ‘live’ about a live oak,” said Coleen Perilloux Landry with the Live Oak Society. “I always tell people if you stand under a live oak at midnight, you can hear it talk.”
Landry is chairman of the Live Oak Society, which has members in 14 southeastern states.
“The membership is all trees, 8,203 of them as of this morning. And I am the only human allowed in the society to take care of the registration and fight for their protection and preservation,” she explained.
The current “president” of the Live Oak Society is a tree called the Seven Sisters, located on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville.
To be the president of the Live Oak Society, you’ve got to be the biggest tree. And this one, if you put a belt around the trunk. That belt would be nearly 40 feet long.
The Seven Sisters Oak has been around for more than 1,000 years.
“So, we were quite enamored with the tree from the moment we knew it was in existence,” said Mary Jane Becker, a property owner.
The giant oak covers most of the front yard of Becker’s home. She is now the caretaker of the grand old lady.
“Well, we make sure that the water system works so that the tree gets watered each day, as it probably has been for many many years. And then, twice a year, a live oak expert come out and deep-root fertilizes the tree,” added Becker.
The giant oaks are part of church yards and cemeteries, and part of parks and playgrounds.
“Peace and quiet, peace serenity. Don’t you feel that?” asked Landry.
In the South, the live oaks are part of our soul.
To qualify to be listed in the live oak society, a tree has to have a girth of at least eight feet.
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