Tree Talk

Thomasville Big Oak

"The Big Oak" in Thomasville, Georgia, is a live oak tree that certainly lives up to its name. Located just a few blocks from the quaint downtown area at the corner of North Crawford and East Monroe Streets, it stands almost 68 feet tall, has a limb span of about 165 feet, and a trunk circumference of just over 26 feet.

The Big Oak dates back to 1680 and is one of the earliest trees registered with the Live Oak Society, which promotes the "culture, distribution, preservation and appreciation of the live oak tree," scientifically known as Quercus virginiana. Live oaks symbolize strength, stability, and steadfastness, which The Big Oak in Thomasville has demonstrated throughout its life. The Big Oak has been certified as the largest live oak growing east of the Mississippi.

John Albert Chastain purchased the property on which The Big Oak stands in 1906 and his family lived in the tree's shadows for nearly 60 years. The property was purchased by the city of Thomasville and Elisabeth Poe in 1966, at which time the land was turned into a public park. Ms. Poe was a well known local historian who owned nearby Pebble Hill Plantation. An acorn offspring of the tree was planted at Pebble Hill Plantation on Arbor Day 2009, and is affectionately known today as "The Baby Big Oak."

Over the years, The Big Oak has withstood a variety of weather events as well as two vehicle accidents. It now has an "on call" tree surgeon and above ground sprinkler system to keep it healthy.

Thomasville's Big Oak is a popular tourist attraction. Today, a visitor to the tree can pose for a free photo that is triggered by calling a displayed number on their cell phone that is relayed to an elevated camera located on a light pole across the street. It posts the visitor's on-site photo to, from which the photos can be downloaded and printed.

For more information about The Big Oak, contact the Thomasville Visitors Center, (photo credit).

Tree Talk will focus on a different Georgia tree each month.