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Kategorien/Categories:    ›Kultur/Culture‹   –  17.04.2013

Big Tree no more

A visit to the Ex-Senator, once Florida’s biggest and oldest cypress tree. Warning: this is a sad story.

The Senator was one of the biggest and oldest pond cypress trees in America. It was estimated to be around 3,500 years old, making it the fifth oldest tree in the world. The Senator was located in Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida. Even though it was located in the middle of swampland, many people came over the centuries to look at this very tall tree in awe – it stood a proud 165 ft. before a hurricane reduced its height to 118 ft. in 1925. A boardwalk was later constructed and a park dedicated to this unique specimen for its protection.

So why the past tense? Because the tree is no more. The Senator was destroyed by a fire on January 16, 2012. The fire raged through the tree from the inside out, like a chimney, and later collapsed, leaving the charred remains of a stump merely 20 ft. tall. Six weeks later, 26-year-old Sara Barnes was arrested in connection with the fire. Apparently, the young woman said she lit a fire for light to take drugs and it got out of hand.

the burned SenatorToday, a brand new boardwalk leads to the site of the Senator’s remains, which stand as an accusing reminder of mankind’s stupidity. Now, there is a strong, high fence. Oh, how we wish that fence had been there before.

Sad as it is, the story has a hopeful ending. In the 1990s, a clone was taken from the Senator and grown into a new cypress tree. It has now been transplanted to that very same park. Who knows? Maybe it will still be around in another 3000 or 4000 years, making “Big Tree Park” live up to its name once more.

info plate at Big Tree Park


Find out more about the Senator here.

Top photo of the Senator taken in 2011, courtesy of Wiki.