Texas declared its independence on March 2, 1836, at Washington (on-the-Brazos). The Republic lasted almost a decade but was annexed in 1845 by the United States. The history of the Lone Star State can be found deep within the roots of the trees that witnessed countless battles.
These 11 trees played a role in the early history of Texas, leaving us with a glimpse into the struggles of those before us.
Deaf Smith Oak
High up in the Deaf Smith Oak, Erastus “Deaf” Smith spied on Mexican troops which camped on Cibolo Creek.
A few days earlier, on October 2, 1835, a small force of Mexican troops attempted to retrieve a cannon from the Texans at Gonzales but were put to fight in the first battle of the Texas Revolution. After hearing of this incident, Mexican Colonel Ugartachea, proceeded to Gonzales to recapture the fieldpiece and “erase the insult” to Mexican authority which the rebels had committed.
On October 10, Stephen F. Austin arrived at Gonzales and was elected commander-in-chief by the army. Deaf Smith was one of the first to enlist in Austin’s army of Texans. Being thoroughly familiar with every part of the country between San Antonio and Gonzales, he was a logical choice to scout the Mexican Army in advance.
The Deaf Smith Oak is located on private property, near the town of La Vernia. Click here to learn more information on the Deaf Smith Oak.
Ben Milam Cypress
According to legend, a Mexican sniper under the command of General Martin Prefecto de Cos shot Benjamin R. Milam from the Ben Milam Cypress, on the night of December 7, 1835.
Colonel Milam had escaped from imprisonment in Mexico early in October 1835 and joined General Edward Burleson’s volunteers as a private in their fight to oust General Cos from San Antonio. Milam called for volunteers to follow him to take on this town. About 300 responded and early the next morning an advance began which ended in victory 6 days later.
During the difficult house-to-house fighting, Milam entered the backyard between the Veramendi Palace and the river to confer with Francis W. Johnson. As he crossed the high-walled courtyard, he was shot in the head and instantly died.
The Ben Milam Cypress, which was used by a Mexican sniper to kill Texans as they came to the river for water, is one of the tallest of the old Veramendi Palace. The tree still stands today at the intersection of the San Antonio River the Riverwalk. Click here to read more about the Ben Milam Cypress.
Near the east bank of Salado Creek at a point midway between two of the most important early roads in Texas, stands an ancient live oak tree known as the Burnt Oak. Its branches may have felt the brush of Spanish leather and the sting of rifles during Texas’ struggle for independence.
Shortly after the first battle of the Texas Revolution ended at Gonzales on October 2, 1835, the newly formed Texas Army, under the command of Stephen F. Austin, left Gonzales and headed for San Antonio to drive Mexican troops out of Texas. Austin and his force of about 600 men camped on Salado Creek, a few miles east of San Antonio, to wait for reinforcements. The Texas camp is believed to have been somewhere near the Burnt Oak.
The Burnt Oak is located about 300 yards north of where East Southcross Boulevard crosses Salado Creek, in San Antonio. For more information on the Burnt Oak click here.
The Mission Anaqua lays claim to fame partly because until 1976 it was the largest of its kind on record in the country. It also played a small role in the early history of Texas.
In early December 1835, Dr. James Grant persuaded about 200 Texans to embark on an attack against the rich Mexican settlement at Matamoros, after his large estate had been confiscated. Sam Houston was not in agreement with the removal of his troops and supplies, so he rode to Goliad to confront the issue and persuaded only 30 men to return to Bexar.
On January 17, Houston went to Refugio and tried once again to stop the expedition. Near the Mission Anaqua, which stands at the site of the original Refugio Mission on the north bank of the Mission River, Houston spoke to Grant's men, only some agreed to wait.
The Mission Anaqua was situated immediately behind Our Lady of Refuge Church in Refugio. Click here for more information on the history of the Mission Anaqua.
Early in March 1836 Mexican General Urrea approached within sight of Refugio Mission and set up headquarters near the Urrea Oaks to prepare to take the town.
Colonel James W. Fannin immediately dispatched Captain Amon B. King and about 30 men to bring the colonists of Urrea to Goliad. On the morning of March 11, King found the frightened colonists and moved them to the Refugio Mission while under attack by a small force of Urrea’s calvary. Fannin immediately sent Lieutenant-Colonel William Ward and his Georgie Battalion.
In the middle of the night, King and his Texans were able to sneak out and cross the river, however the next day they were discovered by the Mexicans and forced to surrender. King and his men were executed, and a week later Ward and his men surrendered to Urrea at Las Juntas. Except for the surgeons and hospital attendants, all were sent to Goliad and, with the captured Fannin and his men, were massacred on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.
The Urrea Oaks are still standing today, a mile southwest of Our Lady of Refuge Church in Refugio. Read more about the Urrea Oaks here.
Sam Houston Oak
At the foot of the Sam Houston Oak, on March 13, 1836, General Sam Houston and a force of less than 400 Texans camped on the first night of their historic retreat from Gonzales.
It was a time when the life of the young Republic seemed to be declining rapidly. At sunrise on March 14, 1836, Houston mounted his horse under the Sam Houston Oak and told his men that those who saw fit to stay behind must suffer the consequences. He and his men continued east to the Brazos and then south to engage Santa Anna in the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1846. This was just 46 days after the fall of the Alamo.
The Sam Houston Oak is still standing tall today and can be seen off County Road 361. Click here to read more about the Sam Houston Oak.
The Orozimbo Oak once shaded the two-story plantation home of Dr. James A. F. Phelps, a member of Austin's “Old Three Hundred” Colony.
It was at the Phelps' home at Orozimbo, about ten miles northeast of West Columbia, that Santa Anna and members of his staff were held five months as prisoners after the Battle of San Jacinto. At Orozimbo, Santa Anna and his officers, although closely guarded by about 20 men, enjoyed their only peace while imprisoned. In their leisure hours they no doubt enjoyed the cool shade provided by the Orozimbo Oak.
Santa Anna's treatment by the Phelps at Orozimbo must have been kind, for in 1843 when Phelps' son, Orlando, was among the Texans captured on the Mier Expedition and later imprisoned at Salado, Santa Anna, learning who he was, arranged for his release and provided him money and safe conduct to Texas. Notable visitors to Orozimbo during Santa Anna's stay included Stephen F. Austin, on July 1, 1836, and Sam Houston, in October of the same year.
A fire set by campers in 1981 destroyed the Orozimbo Oak and all that remains is a stone monument dedicated to Dr. Phelps, his plantation and the tree. Read more about the Orozimbo Oak here.
On January 14, 1839, when the city of Houston was the capitol of the Republic of Texas, an Act of the Texas Congress directed Sam Houston's successor, President Mirabeau B. Lamar, to select the site for a new capitol at a point between the Trinidad and Colorado Rivers, above the San Antonio Road.
Lamar's Capitol Commission chose Waterloo, situated on the east bank of the Colorado in Bastrop County. Judge Edwin Waller, a veteran of the War for Texan Independence, was appointed as agent for the Republic. His charge was to lay out the capital city, which was to be named in honor of Stephen F. Austin, set aside the most valuable lots for the capital and governmental buildings and sell no more than half of the remaining lots at public auction.
In the shade of the Auction Oaks, located near Durham's Spring, Sheriff Charles King of Bastrop, acting as auctioneer, sold 301 city lots for a total of $182,585. The Auction Oaks are in downtown Austin at Republic Square. Click here for more information on the Auction Oaks.
Houston Campsite Oak
During his final term as President of the Texas Republic, one of Sam Houston’s major concerns was Indian relations. In 1843, a Grand Council of the Tribes, comprised of Native American chiefs, Texas President Sam Houston and several of his agents, arranged to meet at Grapevine Springs to negotiate terms of the first peace treaty between the Republic of Texas and Native Americans.
For weeks, Houston and his men camped while waiting for chiefs and commissioners to arrive. Between the campground and the springs, a large post oak, known as the Houston Campsite Oak, dominated the landscape.
The Houston Campsite Oak is the crown jewel of what is now Grapevine Springs Park. Its leafy canopy filters sunlight, twinkling hues of green and gold. The Houston Campsite Oak continues to reign over the landscape as modern Texans hold council beneath its canopy. For more information on the history of the Houston Campsite Oak click here.
Zachary Taylor Oak
On July 23, 1845, Brigadier General Zachary Taylor, commander of the U.S. Army of Occupation, left New Orleans with eight companies of the Third Infantry. His orders were to proceed to Texas and wait there until the Texas Convention had accepted the annexation resolution of the U.S. Congress. He was then to proceed to the western border of Texas, take up a position on or near the Rio Grande and expel any Mexican force that attempted to cross into Texas.
On July 25, the Alabama dropped anchor off St. Joseph Island. By the following evening, three companies of troops had landed, and a small U.S. flag was flying from the top of a sandhill—the first ever raised by United States authority in Texas.
General Taylor and his men are believed to have camped beneath the Zachary Taylor Oak until his return to St. Joseph Island and his subsequent successful trip to Corpus Christi in September. The Zachary Taylor Oak is still standing today, in what is now known as Rockport. Click here for more information on the Zachary Taylor Oak.
Which Way Tree
During the Texas Revolution, after the fall of the Alamo, Sam Houston and his army fled to the east to retreat from Santa Anna’s advancing troops and to regroup.
The road east from Washington-on-the-Brazos forked at the settlement of New Kentucky. One road led to the Trinity and the Sabine rivers, the other to Harrisburg (known as Houston today).
Houston and his men stopped there on April 16, 1836. Near the junction stood a large oak tree, known as the Which Way Tree, with limbs pointing in each direction. One branch pointed northeast to safety beyond the Trinity and Sabine rivers. The other branch pointed to Harrisburg and to war.
As his men took a midday rest beneath the Which Way Tree, Houston considered those roads and reviewed his options. As the story goes, Houston supposedly looked at the tree and found his answer. That road led the ragtag little army to victory at San Jacinto just five days later and the Republic of Texas was born.
The Which Way Tree stands there today in a small commemorative park, offering a rest spot for modern day picnickers. Read more on the Which Way Tree here.
What is the most famous tree in Texas? ›
The "Big Tree", near the town of Rockport, Texas, is one of the most famous live oaks in the world after being named "Texas State Champion Virginia Live Oak" (Quercus virginiana) in 1969.What are the sacred trees of Texas? ›
A Tree that stands as strong as Texas
The Treaty Oak is the last remaining tree of what was once a cluster of 14 live oaks known as the Council Oaks. This group of trees served as a sacred meeting venue for many Indian tribes including the Tonkawas and Comanches.
The Century Tree, located near the Academic Building, is a place that holds a special place in the heart of many Aggies. Well over 100 years old, the tree was one of the first trees planted on Texas A&M's massive 5,200-acre campus.How old is the big tree at Goose Island? ›
Its age has never been accurately determined, but estimates place it as much as 1,100 years old. The "Big Tree" is located at Goose Island State Park near Rockport.What is the tree of heaven in Texas? ›
The Tree-of-Heaven Ailanthus altissima, is a deciduous tree that can reach up to 70 feet in height. The twigs are chestnut-brown with smooth bark and branches are light to dark grey, smooth and glossy with raised dots. Plants are either male or female (dioecious) with soft wood that is weak and coarsely-grained.What is the most invasive tree in Texas? ›
Photinias come in various species, and all of the plants in this family are considered invasive. But specifically, the red-tipped photinia is among the most invasive tree species in Austin, Texas. Not unlike the paper mulberry, red-tipped photinias are beautiful plants.
Live Oaks are one of the most popular trees to plant in Texas, and for good reason: they're drought resistant and easy to care for, and their large, twisting limbs provide a ton of shade—it's not unusual for a Live Oak to reach a width of 100 feet.What trees live the longest in Texas? ›
- Mexican White Oak (sometimes called Monterrey White Oak), which typically lives for 100+ years.
- Live Oak, which typically lives for 300 years.
- Pecan Trees, which typically live for 300 years.
- Cedar Elm, which typically lives for 100+ years.
- American Elm, which typically lives for 300 years.
Among the first trees to flower every year in North and Central Texas, the Texas redbud is also one of the most dramatic. These small trees, which are a variety of the more widespread eastern redbud, unfurl little pink or magenta flowers from their bare bark, attracting honeybees, mason bees, and other pollinators.What tree is the star of Texas? ›
In 1839, at the same time as it adopted the Lone Star Flag, the Congress of the Republic of Texas adopted a national seal with a Lone Star surrounded by a wreath of an olive branch and a live oak branch.
Where is the oldest live oak in Texas? ›
The Oldest Live Oak tree in Texas, known as The Big Tree, lives at Goose Island State Park near Rockport Texas.Where is the 800 year old oak tree? ›
800 Year Old Oak Tree. It is called Majesty, or the Fredville Oak, and is located in Fredville Park, Nonington, Kent. Dr. Mark Benecke and 197,402 others like this.What is the hardest tree in Texas? ›
Bois d'Arc (Janka 2400)is one of the hardest woods that we have in the United States. With Live Oak (Janka 3200), and Texas Ebony (Janka 2570) being the only two woods that I found naturally growing in the US which were harder. Incidentally, all three of these woods are native to Texas.What tree in Texas has little balls? ›
A little about American Sweetgum Trees: you'll recognize these trees by their characteristic star-shaped leaves and their “gumballs,” which are prickly, woody seed balls that drop off during the winter.What part of Texas has the most trees? ›
The densest forest lands lie in the eastern part of the state in the Piney Woods region. In particular the Big Thicket region, just north of Houston and Beaumont, has historically been home to the densest woodlands.What is the most spiritual tree in the world? ›
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the most sacred tree.
It is the southernmost branch of the Bodhi tree in India, under which Buddha attained Enlightenment. The tree was planted in 288 BC, making it the oldest tree intentionally planted by humans. It is revered by Buddhists worldwide.
Known by many names like Shaitan ka Jhad or the Devil's Tree, tribals are often reluctant to sit under this tree or even pass under it for the fear of the devil. However, its most important significance comes from its scientific name, Alstonia scholaris.What is the underworld tree? ›
In Celtic mythology, too, elm trees were associated with the Underworld. They had a special affinity with elves who guarded the burial mounds, their dead and the associated passage into the Underworld. Elm trees in Britain can grow to become some of the tallest and largest native trees.What is the fastest-growing shade tree in Texas? ›
You may know this tree by its alternative names of red oak or pin oak. Whatever you choose to call it, it's a great shade tree! The Nuttall Oak is the fastest-growing oak tree. This means it quickly provides a great, leafy canopy to shade your home from the hot Texas heat.
It is also usually only found in very wet, wooded regions of Texas, typically in the east. It can be a tall shrub or small tree. The leaves are arranged in pairs of 3 to 6 with a single leaf at the terminal end of the stem. The fruits of the Poison Sumac are a whitish green hanging fruit.
What is the 600 year old tree in Texas? ›
In this 1939 photo, Treaty Oak in Austin, Texas, stands near the west bank of the Colorado river. The oak is thought to be nearly 600 years old. Learn the whole story behind unusual murder that shook Austin, Texas, in the latest episode of Great Big Story, a podcast by CNN about the surprising stories all around us.What tree is indigenous to Texas? ›
A few of the more well-known natives that are found in Central Texas are the live oak, cedar elm, Spanish oak, Texas ash and the black cherry.What is a Texas cedar tree called? ›
(Juniperus ashei) What is this? The Juniperus ashei is also called the Ashe Juniper, Post cedar, Texas cedar, Mountain cedar, and Mexican juniper.What is the fastest-growing native Texas tree? ›
1. Live Oak. The Live Oak is native to Texas and Florida and is one of the fastest-growing trees in its youth in Texas.What is the fastest-growing tree ever? ›
The Empress Splendor (botanical name Paulownia fortunei and P. elongata) is the one of the fastest-growing trees in the world. A hardwood, it can grow 10-20 feet in its first year and reaches maturity within 10 years.What tree takes 70 years to grow? ›
Now the carob tree was legendary for taking 70 years to mature, and Honi found it odd that someone so advanced in years would bother planting one.What tree takes 200 years to grow? ›
It can take up to two hundred years for some species of Baobab tree to bear fruit and each tree is different, producing fruits on its own time schedule. Once a Baobab tree produces fruits, the pods will ripen and hang on the tree until they are blown off by strong winds or harvested by humans or animals.What tree takes 10 years to grow? ›
That's because the empress tree is, in fact, one of the fastest-growing trees in the world: It can grow up to 20 feet tall in its first year and reaches maturity in just ten years.What are the purple trees in Texas? ›
The Vitex aka Chaste Tree is a crowd favorite for North Texas, and it has one of the longest blooming seasons for flowering trees in Texas. Beautiful lilac purple blooms that are extremely fragrant, adorn the Vitex 'Shoal Creek' tree shown below from May to September.What is the big tree with red berries in Texas? ›
Winterberry got its name from the bright red fruits that cover the limbs all through the winter. It is a small deciduous tree that grows in wet areas in Texas; it wasn't discovered here until 1959, although it is common in the southeast.
What is a Texas olive tree? ›
Texas olive is an evergreen to semi-deciduous tree reaching fifteen to twenty feet tall and about twenty-five feet wide. It has multiple trunks with a dark gray bark and deep green, oval leaves that are large and leathery in texture. The undersides of the leaves are covered in fuzz with deep, yellowish-white veins.What kind of tree is the Texas Miracle tree? ›
DUVAL COUNTY, Texas — A small town in Duval County was put on the map in 2003 thanks to Estella Garcia, who planted an olive tree just like the one found in Jerusalem. Concepcion is one of the oldest towns in Duval County, established in 1873.What is the giant star in Texas? ›
The Star on the Mountain is a man-made star-shaped landmark on the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, Texas, that is illuminated nightly by the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.What is a Texas Super star plant? ›
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii, Turk's Cap – A rapidly growing, coarse textured plant that produces a profusion of "turban-like" flowers in various colors ranging from bright red to pink to white. Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Texas Superstar® Plants. Highly recommended by Texas A&M AgriLife.How old is the biggest tree in Texas? ›
Big Tree is an ancient live oak tree, estimated to be over 1,000 years old. A celebrated icon of the Texas State Parks system, the tree has been used by many generations for weddings, picnics, thousands of photographs and meditations.What is the fastest-growing oak tree in Texas? ›
Shumard Oaks are one of the fastest-growing trees in the Oak family, further contributing to their popularity. They grow to a medium to large size and have long lifespans, perfect for planting as a family estate tree!What is the second largest tree in Texas? ›
Columbus Oak, Texas' Second Largest Tree.What is the rarest oldest tree? ›
However, one species in particular outlives them all. The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) has been deemed the oldest tree in existence, reaching an age of over 5,000 years old. The bristlecone pine's success in living a long life can be attributed to the harsh conditions it lives in.What is the oldest dead tree? ›
In eastern California, a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) known as Methuselah has long been considered Earth's oldest living thing. According to tree-ring data, Methuselah is 4,853 years old — meaning it was well established by the time ancient Egyptians built the pyramids at Giza.What is the strongest tree in the world? ›
1. Australian Buloke – 5,060 IBF. An ironwood tree that is native to Australia, this wood comes from a species of tree occurring across most of Eastern and Southern Australia. Known as the hardest wood in the world, this particular type has a Janka hardness of 5,060 lbf.
What is the king of all trees? ›
Oaks: The king of trees.What is the most meaningful tree? ›
Redwood symbolizes forever, the elm inner strength and love, and pine trees humility. Fir trees represent springtime, fortitude, and immortality. Poplars abundance, independence, and resilience. Willows symbolize inner wisdom, dreams, harmony, and freedom.Where is the oldest tree in Texas located? ›
The Oldest Live Oak tree in Texas, known as The Big Tree, lives at Goose Island State Park near Rockport Texas.What tree grows fastest in Texas? ›
1. Live Oak. The Live Oak is native to Texas and Florida and is one of the fastest-growing trees in its youth in Texas.What is a Texas Super Star plant? ›
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii, Turk's Cap – A rapidly growing, coarse textured plant that produces a profusion of "turban-like" flowers in various colors ranging from bright red to pink to white. Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Texas Superstar® Plants. Highly recommended by Texas A&M AgriLife.What are the cypress trees of Texas? ›
Bald cypress can be found throughout the eastern states and west as far as central Texas. The bald cypress is known by other names in parts of its range - Gulf cypress, red cypress, southern cypress, swamp cypress, white cypress and yellow cypress.