An icon of the coastal South Carolina Lowcountry, the Angel Oak serves as the focal point and raison d’etre of a small park owned and operated by the City of Charleston. The park and tree are located on Johns Island, one of the sea islands that buffer the mainland from Atlantic storms.
Local mythology claims the tree to be over 1400 years old and the “oldest living thing, east of the Rocky Mountains”. A more reasonable guess of the magnificent tree’s age would be between 300 and 500 years old. Regardless of its age, the Angel Oak is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and often-visited trees in the southeastern United States. The tree is 65 feet tall with a diameter of 8.5 feet and has a shade area of approximately17, 000 square feet. The longest limb is 89 feet long and it has a circumference of 11.5 feet.
The property on which the Angel Oak stands was originally part of a land grant to Abraham Waight in 1717. Waight became a prosperous planter owning several plantations including The Point where the Angel Oak stood. The property passed from generation to generation acquiring the Angel name when Martha Waight married Justis Angel in 1810. The City of Charleston acquired the Angel Oak and surrounding property in 1991. Angel Oak Park was opened to the public on September 23, 1991.
The Angel Oak is cared for by the City of Charleston Urban Forestry Division. The tree is inspected monthly with pruning prescribed as needed (usually every 2 years). Proceeds from the Park’s gift shop pay for an annual application of coarse, hardwood mulch that extends past the drip line of the tree. The cabling system is inspected annually and each February a soil drench of Imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide, is applied. In 2004 the F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company conducted an evaluation of the structural supports and the City is in the process of implementing those recommendations.
This magnificent tree is visited and appreciated by people from around the globe. Many arborists have volunteered to perform work in the tree just for the privilege of doing so. In 2000 the Angel Oak was named as South Carolina’s Millennium Tree by the America the Beautiful Fund and in 2004 received the first Heritage Tree Award presented by the South Carolina Urban and Community Forestry Council.