This is Angel Oak on John’s Island in South Carolina. When we were ready to make the trek from Charleston to Kiawah, our friends drove their car and we hired a car service. Our driver begged us to take a few minutes to stop and see this tree. He said it was one of South Carolina’s best kept secrets and we needed to stop and take a look.
The Angel Oak is a Live Oak (Quercus viginiana) that is a native species found through the South Carolina coastal low country. Many people think that the name Angel Oak has something to do with angels from heaven, but it just refers to the last name of its previous owners.
Towering over 65 feet high, the Angel Oak has shaded John’s Island, South Carolina, for over 1,400 years. This means that the oak would have sprouted 1,000 years before Columbus’ arrival in the New World. Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land, back to the year 1717, when Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant. The tree stayed in the Waight family for four generations and was then part of a marriage settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel. In modern times, the Angel Oak has become the focal point of a public park. Today the live oak has a diameter of spread reaching 160 feet, a circumference of nearly 25 feet and covers 17,100 square feet of ground. Angel Oak’s largest limb has a circumference of 11.25 feet and a length of 89 feet. Talk about a large and long arm!
Angel Oak has in the past few years been threatened by proposed development in the area and the destruction of the surrounding woods. While Angel Oak will not be cut down, many residents of the area believe the surrounding woods help to protect the prized oak from storms and helps allow proper moisture and drainage. Residents also believe the surrounding woods help filter out harmful pollutants before they reach the Angel Oak tree.
We were very happy to take a little turn off the beaten path and get a chance to see Angel Oak. Know that the pictures don’t do justice to how large and majestic the oak tree actually is when you see it in person. It is said to be the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River. It sure is a sight worth seeing. Have you ever seen Angel Oak or heard of it?