By Paula Dittrick, TMNCPC blogmaster
The first Friday in November is Texas State Arbor Day, reports Texas A&M Forest Service, noting Arbor Day 2020 is Nov. 6.
Texas has many famous trees, and most Texas residents seemingly have their favorite Live Oak. Mine is the Goose Island Oak also known as The Big Tree, The Lamar Oak, or The Bishop’s Tree. It is along Park Road 13 where one also can see deer and whooping cranes, depending on the season.
The Goose Island Oak holds the record as the champion Live Oak in Texas—a controversial title determined by a combination of girth, crown spread, and height. Statistics on the Goose Island Oak vary, but a sign near the tree lists its trunk circumference at 35 feet, 1.75 inches with a crown spread of 89 feet, and a height of 44 feet. Age also is a subject of debate but generally is considered to be at least several hundred years to 1,000 years.
Separately, Brazos Bend State Park also has some very impressive trees. In Houston, Rice University is known for its oak trees, especially the majestic tree branches arching over Main Street.
The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center taught me about nature’s resiliency and conservation planning. I was among dozens of volunteers who helped clean up after nearly half the arboretum’s trees died following Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the drought of 2010-11.
Under careful management, the arboretum changed from being a collection of trees to a collection of ecologies, including a prairie featuring a Bur Post Oak. Anyone walking the trials will find many tree species, including loblolly pines, hackberries, sycamores, sweetgums, and various types of oaks.
Although unlike the state of Texas’ official Arbor Day in November, the arboretum celebrates Arbor Day in January.