Discover the Oldest Tree in Florida

Written by Becky Mathews
Published: January 27, 2023
© FtLaud/
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Florida is the sunshine state known for its tropical warmth. It’s warm and humid climate allows unusual heat-loving trees such as coconut palms and mangrove species to flourish there, but did you know Florida is also home to some spectacular ancient trees too? Let’s discover what Floridian tree has lived through an epic timescale. Discover the oldest tree in Florida – and beyond.

How Old is Florida’s Oldest Tree?

The oldest tree in Florida is a 2,000-year-old bald cypress tree called Lady Liberty. It’s located in the aptly named Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida.

Lady Liberty is 82 feet tall, has a trunk circumference of 394 inches and a spreading crown of 34 feet. This sounds large, but although Lady Liberty is Florida’s oldest tree, it’s by no means the tallest. More on that later.

Lady Liberty was named in 2005 through a contest. Two elementary school children submitted the name because one of its branches is angled resembling the uplifted arm of the Statue of Liberty. Before 2005, it was simply called The Companion.

Lady Liberty tree
The oldest tree in Florida is a 2,000-year-old bald cypress tree called Lady Liberty.

©EvelynGiggles / Flickr – License

How Can we be Sure it’s the Oldest?

Dating living trees is a difficult job because the process can cause a good deal of damage. To see a tree’s true age, experts need a root sample for analysis requiring that they bore a hole into the trunk to count the growth rings. Each ring corresponds to one year of growth. This science of reading wood is called dendrochronology.

Dendrochronology is used to date living trees and its also helpful in archaeology. The oldest dendrochronically object is a wood-lined well found in the Czech Republic. It dates back to 5256/55 BC, over 7,500 years ago to the Early Neolithic period.

There’s no scientific proof Lady Liberty is the oldest tree in Florida, but experts think it’s at least 2,000 years old based on its size, the county’s historical marker for the tree, and other forestry sources.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, when Lady Liberty was a sapling, the world experienced the birth of Jesus in the Christian faith, the Roman Empire arrived in Britain (43AD), and Mount Vesuvius exploded killing 20,000 people (79AD).

There were still around 1400 years to go before Christopher Columbus encountered the Americas in 1492. Lady Liberty has seen a lot of change.

Where is the Oldest Tree in Florida?

If you want to discover the oldest tree in Florida for yourself, it’s in Big Tree Park. You can find the park on General Hutchinson Parkway between U.S 17-92 and Longwood State Road 427.

Park officials have built a raised boardwalk to provide easy access, and surrounded Lady Liberty with a fence so you can’t touch it! Imagine hundreds of hands touching its bark each day. That would undoubtedly lead to extensive damage.

Big Tree Park, Longwood, Florida
The oldest tree in Florida can be found at Big Tree Park in Longwood.

©Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License

What’s The Tallest Tree In Florida?

Lady Liberty is the oldest Florida state tree, but it’s not the biggest or tallest by any means.

Florida currently has the most national champion trees in America according to the American forest official register of champion trees the largest tree in Florida is a bald cypress in Hamilton County.

It’s a giant 84 feet tall with a crown stretching over 49 feet. Its trunk circumference is a whopping 557 inches.

A bald cypress tree is the tallest tree in Florida
The tallest tree in Florida is a bald cypress located in Hamilton County.

© Calderon

How Tall is the World’s Tallest Tree?

Florida’s tallest tree is dwarfed by Hyperion, the world’s tallest tree.

This giant coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is 380 feet tall and estimated at 800 years old. It’s located in northern California’s Redwoods National and State Park. Experts think woodpecker damage has prevented Hyperion from growing any taller!

The forest is a special one because the second and third tallest trees in the world are there too! They’re also coastal redwoods named Helios and Icarus.

However, Hyperion, Helios, and Icarus are no longer on public view due to the extensive damage tourists caused the surrounding forests. These giants are not on a trail and can only be reached by crossing a river and hacking through heavy vegetation. Anyone caught trying to find them could end up in jail or landed with a $5,000 fine.

Hyperion is the tallest tree in the world
Hyperion, located in California, is the tallest tree in the world measuring 380 feet tall and estimated at 800 years old.

©Stephen Moehle/

The Oldest Trees in Florida

Before Lady Liberty won the title of the oldest tree in Florida, it belonged to a tree just a few feet away called The Senator.

The Senator was also a bald cypress and approximately 3,500 years old, 1,500 years older than Lady Liberty. It was 125 feet (38 meters) tall and its trunk diameter reached a whopping 11.27 feet. Not only was it the oldest tree in Florida, but it was also the tallest.

Disaster struck on January 16 2012 when The Senator was destroyed by a fire set at its base. Experts say the tree burned from the inside like a chimney and then collapsed. Its burned remains still stand at 20-25 feet tall.

The fire was started at night, by a woman who claimed it was a smoking accident. However, police found evidence of the fire being started on her cell phone and laptop. Following the fire, Big Tree Park closed for a year and The Senator’s remains were turned into works of art.

A clone named The Phoenix was planted nearby, but it’ll take thousands of years to reach the grand old age of The Senator.

The Senator tree remains in Florida
The Senator was one of the biggest and oldest bald cypress trees in the United States until destroyed by fire.

©Maily Nguyen/

How Many Trees are there in Florida?

There are 17 million acres of forests in Florida, which covers around half its land. Most of them are working timberland forests situated north of Orlando that employ 124,000 people, but there are 37 state forests, covering over 1,070,000 acres too.

Florida has the greatest number of native tree species in the States other than Hawaii. It’s home to protected mangrove trees and many tropical trees that can’t grow in the colder states such as tropical palms.

Florida is fourth in the top tree planting state list. Approximately 82 million trees are planted in Florida every year at a ratio of five for every one harvested. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimates that’s six billion trees planted in the past 80 years.

What is the Oldest Tree in the World?

The world’s oldest living tree is currently the Methuselah tree thought to be 4,853 years old and the oldest living thing in the world. Methuselah is comparable in age to the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.

It’s a bristlecone pine situated in California’s Great Basin in the Inyo National Forest between the Sierra Nevada range and the Nevada border.

Other ancient trees estimated at over 3,000 years old surround Methuselah. Experts dated them in 1957 via core samples of their tree rings, so there’s no doubt of their age.

But the oldest living tree has a rival.

In Chili, experts have found another tree in the secluded La Union valley estimated at 5,484 years old!

It’s a Patagonian cypress tree called Gran Abuelo (that’s Spanish for great-grandfather). Patagonian cypresses are conifers related to huge ancient tree species like coastal redwoods and giant sequoias.

But currently, Methuselah holds the record because Gran Abeulo’s age hasn’t been scientifically dated in the same way.

An increment borer is used to date living trees, but it was not large enough to reach all the way. Usually, root samples are taken too, but this is so invasive scientists would rather not risk the ancient tree.

Instead, they’ve taken core samples from similar surrounding trees to arrive at their date. 

Methuselah is the world's oldest living tree
The world’s oldest living tree is currently the Methuselah tree thought to be 4,853 years old.


Interesting Florida Trees and Where to Find Them

You can discover the oldest tree in Florida in Big Tree Park, Longwood, but there are other spectacular trees to track down too.

Look out for:

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park that’s home to the world’s largest royal palm and bald cypress swamp.

The Florida Torreya tree (Florida nutmeg or stinking cedar) in Torreya State Park. This tree is so rare there are only 200 left from 60,000 in the early 1800s.

Gumbo limbo trees that host the dingy purplewing butterfly at state parks including Collier-Seminole and Long Key.

Red, black or white mangrove trees that are legally protected in Florida and the subject of restoration projects. Paddle around the mangrove islands of Florida’s state parks such as Don Pedro, Oleta River, and Caladesi Island to spot them.

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Cypress tree
Looking up at a tall cypress tree.
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About the Author

I’ve been a professional writer since 2014 with special interests in the environment, particularly archaeology and plant species. I graduated from the University of Reading and the University of Oxford, UK.

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