Ode to Florida’s oldest cypress tree

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The Senator, Florida's Oldest Cypress Tree ©Holiday Tripper

The Senator, Florida's Oldest Cypress Tree ©Holiday Tripper

Florida Travel Guide bids farewell to Florida’s oldest cypress tree

The Senator, Florida’s oldest cypress tree, and one of the most ancient in the world, caught on fire early this morning in Big Tree Park and collapsed. One of Florida’s tallest Cypress Trees, it was 129 feet even though 1/3 of its top was loped off by a 1925 hurricane.

The Senator staked its roots into Florida soil more than 3,000 years ago and served as a landmark for the Seminoles and other Native Americans. We dug into our archives for photos of this ancient tree to share with you.

 

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Fire

More than a dozen firefighters from Seminole County rushed to the scene around 5:50 a.m. to put out the fire. Despite pulling more than 800 feet of hose, the ancient bald cypress collapsed at 8:15 a.m.

Firefighters aren’t sure what caused the fire but say that the tree smoldered from the inside out. The National Weather Service said there were no lighting strikes or storms in the area.
The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Park

In the late 1800s, before a park was created, people would hop from log to log through the swamp in order to see the towering Senator. In 1929, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the site. One of the oldest parks in the region, it was a headliner for visitors pre-theme park. It’s still well worth a visit to Big Tree Park. There are a number of ancient cypress trees along the short 0.3 mile wooded path, among them “Lady Liberty”.
The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

Florida Cypress Trees

Deciduous Baldcypress or “Swamp-cypress” (Pondcyrpess are a another variant) live in wet, swampy habitat and has a wide base with a branches spreading from its crown. Often referred to as “wood eternal” due to its decay resistance, it is quite often used for construction material. Ancient cypress trees, as specially as old as The Senator are very rare. If you want to visit another park with many cypress trees, you can travel to the Big Cypress National Preserve near Naples, Florida where cypress are spread throughout the 729,000 acres.

 

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

 

Good-bye Senator

We’ll leave our last words for a final photo of the Senator that once stood.

 

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

The Senator, Florida's oldest cypress tree ©HolidayTripper.com

Tell us…

What’s your favorite old-growth tree?