New Orleans’ 300-Year-Old Best-Kept Secret Isn’t on Bourbon Street

New Orleans is home to Jazz, Mardi Gras, and that gambling habit we all love to hate, but there’s more to the city than the big ticket tourist attractions. On your next visit, here’s a reason to stop and relish the natural beauty. While the Bald Cypress is the state tree of Louisiana, its Tree of Life holds a special place in the heart of the city of New Orleans. The great oak, the Etienne de Boré Oak, was named after the city’s first mayor, Jean Etienne de Boré. Bore, of French descent was the first person to successfully plant and harvest sugarcane in Louisiana on his sugarcane plantation. The tree resided on his property. Today, the tree is assumed to be between 100-500 years old, with most sources agreeing on 300 years old. Some records say it was planted around 1740 and is almost as old as the city of New Orleans itself.

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The tree now lives in Audubon Park at 6500 Magazine St. in the heart of the city and shares a fence with the Audubon Zoo. For those visiting the French Quarter, Audubon Park is a quick street car ride away via the St. Charles Ave Street car, along the Mississippi River. It is hard to miss as it’s a popular location for tourists, locals, and and wedding photos. Oh, and also the little fact that the tree itself is HUGE!

In terms of size, The Tree of Life is 35 feet in circumference at the base and is rivaled in size only by the trees in the California Redwood forests. Given the 160 feet of branch reach, the oak tree is a favorite for tourists and locals who want a little climbing adventure. An added bonus is the giraffes sightings at the zoo, when standing on the branches. The old oak tree was chosen by the Live Oak Society, a group who’s goal is to promote and preserve the life of live oak trees, to be one of the original inductees.They recognize trees of a certain age and size. On the original list of 43 trees, the Tree of Life was number 13.

Now the Live Oak Society has grown their network to involve almost 8,000 trees. Quercus Virginiana is another name for Live Oak trees that are almost evergreen, and are found mostly in the South as they cannot survive cold climates. This massive natural beauty with sprawling branches and draping Spanish moss is a must-see if you are in the New Orleans area!

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