Tree Talk

Candler Oak

It's not possible to take a trip through Savannah without being impressed by the city's stunning tree canopy.
Moss-laden live oaks that provide shade to city residents and visitors alike are practically synonymous with this charming Southern city.

The Candler Oak is thought to be one of he oldest living landmarks in the Savannah area. It stands just south of the corner of Drayton and East Gaston Streets, and is estimated to be about 300 years old. It is 54 feet tall, has a circumference of 16.85 feet and a 63 inch diameter. Its average crown spread is 110.25 feet.

Five acres of land surrounding the oak were designated by the Georgia Legislature in 1791 to be used for a seaman's hospital, which was built in 1803. In 1819, a new structure, the Savannah Poor House and Hospital was built on the land, and in 1854 was converted to the headquarters of the Medical College of Georgia. The hospital was used by the Confederacy during the Civil War and even by General Sherman, who captured it and used the hospital to treat his soldiers. Health care organizations utilized the facilities until 2000.

The health of the Candler Oak was in serious decline prior to 1982, when a group of concerned citizens stepped in to preserve it and other Savannah trees. The Savannah Tree Foundation made history by securing the nation's first conservation easement on a single tree. In 1984, a 6,804 foot easement was established to protect the Candler Oak from loss to development. In 1985, asphalt was removed from a parking lot over the tree's root area and the landmark was put on a health plan with guidelines for watering, mulching and fertilizing. In 2001, the Georgia Urban Forest Council designated the tree as a Georgia Landmark and Historic Tree.

Today, the Candler Oak is in good health, under the care of the Savannah Tree Foundation and the ongoing patronage of St. Joseph's Candler Hospital. Arborists say the tree should continue to grace Savannah well into the 21st century.

To learn more about the Candler Oak, conservation easements and other notable Savannah trees, visit the Savannah Tree Foundation at SavannahTree.com.

photo credit: Risher Willard, GFC



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