Return to Big Tree Park

You may remember my posts about “The Senator”, a 3500 year old Cypress tree in Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida (Big Tree Park – Home of the Senator, and “The Senator” is destroyed by fire).  The destruction of the tree in January of last year was an awful event.  The park closed after the fire but it’s open again now and the story has taken a fascinating twist – so I went by to check it out.

The Senator
The Senator in September of 2011 – just a few months before the fire

The Senator remains

The Senator in March of 2013 – the charred base of the original tree is all that’s left.

The Seminole Voice newspaper website has a good article with details on this very unlikely story, but here’s a summary:

  • In 1997 a branch fell from the Senator after a storm.
  • A Miami science teacher happened to be there and happened to know about a North Florida tree farmer who was creating a cypress grove cloned from trees from all over the country.
  • The science teacher gave the branch to the farmer who used it to create ten cloned trees.
  • Seven of them survived (an unusually high percentage).
  • Fifteen years later, in January of 2012, the Senator burned.
  • A forestry specialist at the University of Florida heard about the fire and recalled the cloning project.
  • Seminole County officials then worked to move one of the clones to Big Tree Park.
  • The identical clone (appropriately named “The Phoenix”) was transplanted to Big Tree Park and dedicated on March 2nd, 2013.  It’s doing well and is already more than 50 feet tall!

The Phoenix rises
The Phoenix rises:  An identical clone of the 3500 year old “Senator” cypress tree was started in 1997.  Already 50+ feet tall, it was transplanted into Big Tree Park in 2012

There are some other changes, including a refurbished boardwalk, new signs with information about the park and trees, and new fencing (to keep drug addled arsonists out).

It’s horrible that this ancient tree burned, but it’s amazing that a clone existed.  I wonder if people will visit “The Phoenix” far in the future and think about the 21st century, just like I sometimes think about the time 3500 years ago when The Senator first grew.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos.
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

About Ed Rosack

I live in Central Florida and enjoy exploring the area. I'm interested in nature and wildlife photography - and many other things. I'm the chief reporter, lead writer, managing editor, main photographer, and publisher of the Central Florida Photo Ops website hosted at www.edrosack.com. You can also see more of my photos on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/

5 thoughts on “Return to Big Tree Park

  1. An interestiing and uplifting blog about a wonderful product of nature! Losing the Senator through such a tiresome piece of human behaviour was horrendous – now happily counterbalanced, to an extent, by the quiet initiative of others!

    1. Hi Rhona,

      I find it an interesting and improbable story too. I’m grateful than mankind’s ingenuity can at least partially rectify one person’s stupidity.

      Ed

  2. Who’d a thunk? Thanks for the follow-up. Somehow I don’t think it would have made it to the local press. (I won’t tell you how long ago I first visited the Senator, but it was already a mature tree at the time.)

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