(WVUE) - Living in the South, you can see some rather impressive live oak trees, and there is actually a Live Oak Society that keeps track of the largest. Dave McNamara shows us a 1,200-year-old tree that is the president of that society, in the Heart of Louisiana.
They are the grand monuments of the Southern landscape, with massive strong arms. Their elbows brace themselves on earth to support an evergreen crown that's fashionably draped with Spanish moss. Their shade is an oasis from the summer sun. They create archways to majestic homes, and conceal the stark dwellings of slaves and sharecroppers. For some, the live oak has human qualities.
"Theres something live about a live oak," said Coleen Perilloux-Landry. "I always tell people if you stand under a live oak at midnight, you can hear it talk."
Perilloux-Landry is chairman of the Live Oak Society, which has members in 14 Southeastern states.
"The membership is all trees, 8,203 of them as of this morning. And I am the only human allowed in the society to take care of the registration and fight for their protection and preservation," she said.
The current president of the society a tree called the Seven Sisters, located in Mandeville. To be the president, you've got to be the biggest tree. And this one, if you put a belt around the trunk - that belt would be nearly 40 feet long. The Seven Sisters oak has been around for more than a thousand years.
"So we were quite enamored with the tree from the moment we knew it was in existence," said Mary Jane Becker.
The giant oak covers most of the front yard of Becker's home, and she is now the caretaker of this grand old lady.
"Well, we make sure that the water system works so that the tree gets watered each day as it probably has been for many, many years," Becker said. "And then twice a year we have a live oak expert come out and deep-root fertilizes the tree."
The giant oaks are part of our church yards and cemeteries, and part of our parks and playgrounds.
"Peace and quiet, peace, serenity – don't you feel that?" asked Perilloux-Landry.
In the South, the live oaks are part of our soul.