The Big Tree, Rockport

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Goose Island Oak (the Big Tree) Rockport, Texas

The "Big Tree" is one of the most famous live oaks in the world. It was named Texas State Champion Virginia Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) in 1969 and retained that title until 2003 when a larger tree was discovered in Brazoria County, Texas. It is thought to be one of the largest in the United States.


The Big Tree is located near the old town of Lamar, in Goose Island State Park. During the Civil War, the town of Lamar was bombarded and destroyed by the union navy. All that remained were the ruins of a few old shellcrete (oyster shell concrete) homes, a Catholic chapel, and the Big Tree.[1]

Before the 1931 opening of the mile-and-a-half-long Copano Causeway, visitors coming from south of Copano Bay, such as from Corpus Christi, had to drive many miles inland to get around the body of water and get to the Big Tree.

According to climatologists, the Big Tree has survived from anywhere between forty and fifty major hurricanes, numerous floods, droughts and wildfires.[2]

Quercus virginiana[edit]

The Quercus virginiana is a species of Oak tree found from Texas to Florida and extending to Virginia. The common name for the Quercus virginiana is the Live Oak, but includes the Southern Live Oak, and the Texas Live Oak. Growth rate and size varies with location. The largest Live Oaks grow further inland and Live Oaks in coastal locations are usually smaller.[3]


The Texas Forest Service estimates the tree to be over 1,000 years old, other recent estimates place it nearer to 2,000 years old. Also known as Bishop Oak and Lamar Oak,[4] the Big Tree is a charter member (#16) of the Live Oak Society,[5] and has been the subject of one of Ripley's "Believe It or Not" cartoons. The Big Tree is possibly the oldest live oak. It possesses a circumference of over 35 feet, is more than 45 feet tall and has a crown spread of 90 feet.

Record or Champion Trees are determined by their girth, their spread and their height. The near-continuous gulf breeze limits the height of this oak. Therefore, there are many live oaks that surpass this tree's height, however when the tree's girth is factored in, it makes this the second largest live oak in Texas. The state's third largest Live Oak is in Columbus, Texas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marguerite House, "LAMAR, TX (ARANSAS COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed May 30, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Goose Island Oak Retrieved 2013-07-16
  5. ^ The Live Oak Society Retrieved 2013-07-16

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°09′09″N 96°58′36″W / 28.15252°N 96.97665°W / 28.15252; -96.97665