Trailside Treehouse

Back in the summer of 2019, I wrote a feature in R Home Magazine about four different treehouses in Richmond. So far, here on Urban Forest Dweller, we’ve showcased three of the four. The fourth is one of RVA’s most popular Airbnb stays. It’s a two-story treehouse near the James River with an oak piercing the first-floor porch. Here’s an excerpt from the article with a link at the end to read the rest in R Home.

If you doubt the power of a treehouse to capture the imagination, consider this: In 2017, the most sought-after listing on Airbnb was a treehouse — a mini Ewok Village, really — in Atlanta, Georgia. That summer the listing, which generated more than 300,000 monthly visits, was on close to 150,000 Airbnb “wish lists” and rented for $375 a night.

Carrie and Josh Rogers’ treehouse in Westover Hills can’t quite boast that following, but it isn’t far behind. The two-story charmer was inspired by fire lookout towers in California and offers views of the James River Park from the second-story deck. Carrie, a freelance writer and mother of three, put the treehouse on Airbnb one night in September 2017. By the next morning, “I had five inquiries from people who wanted to stay there that Saturday night,” she says.

Keep reading

home page

The Remarkable Willow Oaks of J.B. Cary Elementary

There are many massive willow oak trees in Richmond. Too many to count. And willow oaks can become massive in a few ways. They can grow very tall — some in the area have grown to at least 80 feet in height — and well as crown spread. But my favorite willow oaks in the area have fluted bases that spiral upward and outward, producing tree trunks that are incredibly broad at chest height.

Two remarkable examples of willow oaks with massive circumferences, trees that beg be walked around slowly and marveled at, exist at the southern end of the John. B. Cary Elementary School field complex. I’ve been driving past these two trees for years taking my son and now my daughter to Richmond Little League events at the baseball/softball field there. For years, the tree along the fence line where Huxley Street dead-ends into Grant Street grabbed my attention. I only noticed recently another even larger willow oak back up the one-way Grant where Walpole Street comes in.

Words can’t possibly due the girth of these trees justice. They must be stood under — and back from at the proper remove — to be appreciated. Hopefully, these pictures will give you a sense for why a road trip to see these beauties is a good idea… (and we’d love to hear about any other willow oaks that you think might be as big or bigger than these!)

Above: the first, smaller, tree closer to the baseball field.

The circumference of the smaller tree.

The fluted base of the smaller willow oak.

The larger of the two trees.


home page

The Remarkable Bryan Park Live Oaks

Bryan Park has many specimen trees, many that would qualify by anyone’s definition of remarkable. But maybe it’s most improbable individuals are the four old, quite large live oaks that inhabit the city park. These trees wouldn’t necessarily qualify as remarkable if this was Charleston, S.C. or Savannah, Ga. But they certainly do when you consider how far north and west of the species’ home range they exist (and thrive). In fact, I can’t imagine there are many live oaks that are this old anywhere north of these. We’d love to hear from you and if you know of any!

Of the four — and there may be more in Bryan park, but these are the easiest to find — the one that most resembles the live oaks you see in the deep South, with their serpentine horizontal limbs often twisted by wind, sits to the left to the road after you pass through the main entrance but before you reach the creek. The other two pictured below live next to the parking lot/tennis courts/bathrooms at the top of the park. The one with the ID plaque is between the tennis courts and the soccer fields. The other pictured here is in the triangle of grass with road and parking lot surrounding it. A fourth tree (not pictured here) overhangs one of the tennis courts.

Live oak next to road by creek.

Same live oak as above.

The branches of the above live oak.

Live oak between tennis courts/bathrooms and soccer fields.

Live oak sandwiched between roads and parking lot.

Same live oak as above.

home page

Pink Dogwoods, Rank and File, at the Carillon

Cornus florida — “Rubra”

Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheet

Why Remarkable:

These two rows of pink dogwoods are multi-generational.  As older members of the ranks have passed on, young ones have been added back in.  Nice job, city arborists!  In early April all dogwoods are remarkable, but seeing this group of pinks lined up in front of a Richmond landmark makes them extra special.

home page

Sleepy Hollow Sweetgum Treehouse

The sweetgum tree featured here is a perfectly lovely specimen, but the tree alone wouldn’t qualify as “remarkable.” It’s the treehouse suspended in the sweetgum that makes the combo worthy of inclusion on this list. A couple of years back, I wrote a piece for R Home Magazine about four incredible treehouses in the Richmond area. This is the third we’ve now featured on our Remarkable Tree Map.

The homeowners have since moved on, but this beautiful structure remains. Like the slippery elm treehouse we highlighted here a few months ago, this treehouse is not just supported by its host, it’s inhabited by it. The sweetgum shoots up through the middle of the floor and pierces the walls and roof in numerous places. It’s as if the tree is wearing the 10’x10′ house. Check out our map for the location and go for a drive to see it. It’s on private property but is easily visible from the road.


home page

The Remarkable Cedars of Historic Tuckahoe

Many older properties had long rows of trees along their entry lanes. But we know of no other place than Historic Tuckahoe where you can drive for about a half-mile and see Eastern Red Cedar on your left, and Eastern Red Cedar on your right.  Some old, some young, some in perfect health, and some holding on to life, though their trunks and branches have been broken, damaged or invaded by pests and animals. Pulling into the driveway from River Road, this long receiving line helps to create the time-warp effect that will be completed when you arrive in another century at the end of the drive.


home page

Beech Tree Hall

This mature stand of massive Beech trees is a must-visit for any Richmonder.  Beech trees were the original tabloids, and in the Great Hall of Beech you can read up on many of the forest love affairs of the last century.  They cling to the steep, southern slopes of the James River valley with claw-like roots that are so big that even the claws have been engraved.   Join the Buttermilk trail from Reedy Creek parking area and travel west.  Look for the large hollow Beech Tree shown with Rochester the pirate dog below.  The knoll above this spot is Beech Tree Hall where you will find a great congregation of these old sages whose smooth skin belies their age.

Follow this link to a “Life in the Forest” story about these trees.

Wounded Heart

home page

Slippery Elm Treehouse

Preston Kendig had never really paid much attention to the giant slippery elm tree on his family’s Goochland County farm until arborist Jason Anderson pointed it out. The two were walking the property for a DIY Network show, “The Treehouse Guys,” that had committed to building a treehouse on the property. When the family decided they wanted to do something with the land, Kendig applied to a number of TV shows. “The Treehouse Guys” wanted to build there. “It was forest on either side of it,” Kendig explains, laughing at the memory. But “once I was out here looking around [with Anderson] it was like, ‘Oh yeah, that giant tree.’”

Today, a 500-square-foot treehouse with a sleeping loft and large deck sits in the massive elm’s branches.

Standing under the incredible spray of limbs, you wonder, as Kendig did then, “How did they even see a house in this?”

Click here to read the rest of my article about this treehouse and others in R Home Magazine

home page

Maymont Darlington Oak

There are dozens of national champion trees in Virginia, but only one resides in the immediate vicinity of the city of Richmond. Not surprisingly, you can find that tree in Maymont.

This Darlington Oak isn’t just the largest of its kind in America (as measured by a combination of girth, height and crown spread). It also has a quirky backstory. Nine years ago, Rex Springston of the Times-Dispatch, wrote about how this specimen oak was long thought to be a similar-looking laurel oak. Maymont horticulture director Peggy Singlemann questioned that classification and decided to send a branch and some acorns off to the National Arboretum in Washington for further study. The result: The former laurel oak became America’s largest Darlington oak. Click here to read Springston’s story on the tree.

The massive oak isn’t hard to find. As you come down the path from the back side of Maymont’s nature center, go straight, then take a right. The tree is near the intersection of four paths.


home page

Ginkgo Trees of Massie Road

Now is the time to go see the allee of ginkgoes on Massie Road in Richmond’s Windsor Farms neighborhood. We were first made aware of the incredible autumn show these trees put on by the book The Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeff Kirwan, with photography by Robert Llewellyn (who took the picture that accompanies this entry).

“The trees along Richmond’s Massie Road,” they write, “are much younger [than a gingko on the UVA campus] — the oldest of them were probably planted in the 1950s — but they illustrate how impressive a street tree the ginkgo can be — especially when lit with yellow leaves.”

Check our map below for where to find this street of gorgeous ginkgoes putting on their fall clothes. And if you love trees, you simply must own The Remarkable Trees of Virginia.

home page

“The Hanging Tree”

I got a call from longtime Dinwiddie county resident, Betty, a couple of weeks ago. She wanted help understanding the age of a tree that had fallen by the old Dinwiddie courthouse. She referred to the tree as the “Hanging Tree,” which certainly got my attention. The grand black oak tree had fallen on a calm day, and she was afraid it would get cleaned up before an arborist could look at it. Definitely worth a trip!

Dinwiddie County is an almost forgotten area of Virginia these days. Even Betty says so. She sat on a stone wall across the street from the tree and under the shade of another younger black oak in the Old Courthouse Lawn and paid special attention to each car passing by. Almost forgotten now, maybe, but at one point in the late 19th century Dinwiddie county was the center of the world. There were more Civil War battles in or near Dinwiddie county than almost anywhere else. The Hanging Tree was already quite mature as battalions of soldiers marched down the main street and undoubtedly took some shade under its wide canopy.

And as history shows, the Hanging Tree was asked to participate in our earlier form of capital punishment.  Betty described the last public hanging on this tree to me. The year was 1906. The murderer was caught red-handed, sentenced in court, and hung from the tree within 24 hours of the sentence. Betty said that’s back when justice was swift, and had some choice words to say about death row terms now that go on for decades.

The Old Dinwiddie Courthouse is mainly a tourist attraction now. The curator met me at the tree as well and explained how much of a social and community event a legally ordained hanging once was. He described how the whole area around the tree would have been crowded with locals and people who had made long carriage or horse rides to witness the event.

Determining the age of the tree required some educated extrapolation. Its circulatory system was perfectly healthy, pumping nutrients and water up and down at the outer edge of the tree. But its bones, or heartwood, had been rotting away for at least two centuries. The circumference is roughly 25 feet, meaning its diameter is roughly 7-8 feet. Only the outer 8-10 inches of the circumference is still there. The tree showed small but steady growth in its rings right up to the last. A large stem that separated from the main trunk about 18 ft up was still whole, and in its growth rings, I could see that the growth rate of this tree had been impressively consistent.

The Hanging Tree knew how to handle all kinds of weather. In fact, after extrapolating the growth rate through the missing radius of the tree, and adjusting the estimate to account for a higher rate when the tree was young, the best estimate for the age of this tree is 350-400 years.  So yes, this tree knew how to weather some stuff.

I recommended to Betty that the county cut the base to a reasonable height and build a table across the hollow so that it can remain a topic of conversation for many, many years to come.  In the hopes that this is the case, we will put The Hanging Tree on our Remarkable Tree Map, at least for now.

RIP, old Girl.
home page

Larus Park Chestnut Oaks

If it wasn’t for the nearby noise of Huguenot Road, you might think you were on any summit in the Virginia mountains. Vegetation is sparse, the soil is thin and rocky, and a congregation of chestnut oak trees has gathered.
The upper section of Richmond’s Larus Park is a great reminder that above the fall line of the James, Richmond is still, geologically, at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chestnut oaks are common in the elevated neighborhood near Larus park, as well. These trees don’t tend to live long — not by oak standards, anyway — but while they are living they produce the biggest acorns you will find. Maybe that’s their secret to living on hills — that these huge acorns are filled with enough nutrition to get the next generation’s roots established in the un-welcoming terrain.
To find this remarkable stand of chestnut oaks, park at the Larus entrance on Huguenot Road, next to the fire station and convenience store/gas station. Walk about 100 yards through some young pines, and you’ll be standing among the oaks.
home page

Ashland Green Ash

Why remarkable: Size and age

Details: This immense green ash tree was suggested by an Ashland resident and loyal Urban Forest Dweller reader. It watched an old house on this property burn down in 1939. That house was replaced by a boarding residence called “Napier House.” It’s currently a private residence, but you can drive by and appreciate just how magnificent this specimen is next to the garage in the back of the house. It’s lower trunk also hosts a healthy hive of bees!



home page

Powhatan County Post Oak

We first heard about this former state champion post oak from the incomparable coffee table book, Remarkable Trees of Virginia. It’s also included in the Virginia Big Tree Registry maintain by Virginia Tech.

From Nancy Ross Hugo’s description on page 162 of Remarkable Trees of Virginia:

Growing on farmland that has been in the Christian family since the 1700s, the tree may also be quiet old. According to one relative, when William Christian described the tree in 1992, he said the tree looked the same then as it did over 75 years earlier when he used to rest plow horses under it.

Native to Virginia, post oaks are slow-growing but long-lived. The average post oak lives about 250 years, and some live to be 450. They are usually stout trees, characterized by broad, dense, rounded crowns and spreading branches that are often somewhat gnarled or twisted.


home page

‘Crescent’ the Sycamore

Why remarkable: Age, survivability
Description: Looked at from one side this old sycamore tree looks a lot like many of its species lined up along the James River west of the Huguenot Bridge. But from the other side, the observer sees that it is held up by the thinnest sliver of sapwood. Thus the name. Still living, still hoping tree hopes, still reproducing, and still growing.
home page

‘Old Good Air’ the White Oak

Why remarkable: Size, age
As the Richmond story goes, Old Bon Air used to be a country retreat for the Richmond well-to-do. This tree was definitely around for that. Wider than it is tall, the homeowners have allowed it to totally embrace their small house. There is a treehouse with a spiral staircase. On the day of my visit a chocolate lab was enjoying this summer day on the platform of the treehouse. This remarkable white oak at the corner of Larkspur and Buford is easily visible from the road. It’s absolutely worth the trip!
home page

‘Robyn Hightman’ Paper Mulberry

Where: Federal Park (in The Fan), Richmond, Va. Federal Park is a pocket park between Main and Floyd, Rowland, and Shields.

Why remarkable: When you ride, walk or drive upon this tree you know it is something special. It is hidden in one of the little pocket parks that are a secret in Richmond (Did I just give the secret away?)  I have not measured the trunk diameter, but I assume it’s the largest paper mulberry tree in Richmond. When you get closer you also see how it’s not only a freaking awesome specimen of a paper mulberry but you also see there is a connection to a cyclist Robyn Hightman who was killed on their bike while being a courier in New York City.  Click here to learn more about Robyn.  

This tree does not have much of a canopy to match this massive trunk.  The lack of canopy has either been caused by past storm damage or over-pruning. The main limbs of this tree have been headed back significantly (topped). This incredible specimen is absolutely worth the trip to find it. And why not pay your respects to Robyn by getting there on your bike?


home page

Tulip Poplar Treehouse

Pete Nelson and his Treehouse Masters TV show was the inspiration for this backyard treehouse. But if it wasn’t for the towering tulip poplar that resides at the back of our Westover Hills property, that inspiration would have remained just that — a fun idea with no way to bring it to life. (Click here to read more about the treehouse in R Home Magazine.)

The tulip poplar that hosts my treehouse isn’t gigantic by tulip poplar standards — these trees are the tallest in the Eastern U.S., after all — but it is one of the largest in our neighborhood. It dwarfs our backyard. The first time I saw Nelson’s popular show on Animal Planet, I remember looking at the tree differently. Whoa, I thought, that isn’t just a massive tree. It’s a treehouse tree!

That was over five years ago. Since then the treehouse has hosted sleepovers, served as a podcast studio, and become my son’s remote learning office. And none of that would have been possible without the incredible specimen growing straight and true in my backyard.

Drive down the 5000 block of Evelyn Byrd Road if you want to check it out. It’s easy to see from the street!


home page

Willow Oaks of Roslyn Lane

If you drive down Oak Lane in Richmond you will certainly find a few impressive oak trees. But if you go one block over to Roslyn Lane you will see some truly magnificent ones. It’s hard to believe that these house-dwarfing Willow Oak trees are only 90 years old or so. These beauties are very much worth a drive-by if you find yourself in the area.
home page

‘Door Knocker’ Elm

Truetimber was honored to work on this remarkable American elm tree that has been reaching for at least 150 years to knock on the door of this house on Three Chopt Road. The 55-foot long door-knocking limb is hard to appreciate from the road, where it is screened from view by the lower landscape, but the rest of the canopy can be very much appreciated if you are walking or driving past the Three Chopt Roadd entrance to the Country Club of Virginia.

Remarkable for: size, age, and reach
6-foot diameter at breast height
70-80 ft tall and 70-80 ft wide
home page

‘Clutch’ the Sweetgum

Why remarkable: Survivability

In most cases, some of the most remarkable features are buried under our feet.  Not so with this Sweetgum tree by the edge of the James River at the upper ledges of Pony Pasture Rapids. At normal river levels, one might wonder why this tree has wrapped its tentacles so tenaciously around the rocks and earth of the bank, but when the James is swollen the reason is clear.




home page

‘The Marshal’ – Southern Catalpa

You won’t find too many “cigar trees” in Richmond, and you will find no other like this one. Its base sits like a massive 6-foot-wide boulder at the edge of a field behind the John Marshall High School playing fields and near the office of the Richmond Urban Forestry Department. The boulder is easily climbed, and if you take your turn you can be certain you are following the scrambling of countless other humans. It’s fun to imagine the human interactions this tree has had. If your imaginative ears are open, it will tell you stories of the many football, baseball and soccer games it has watched.
home page

Southern Red Oak

Bryan Park is home to many remarkable trees, but one that will certainly draw your attention is this Southern red oak on the knoll above Young’s Pond. One limb growing off the side of this mammoth is three feet in diameter and reaches 55 feet away from the trunk. If you follow it from tip to trunk and then walk out to the tips of the limbs on the opposite side, you will have walked over 100 feet. Amazing! Roughly six feet in diameter and 100 feet tall, this tree continues to thrive as some of its nearest neighbors have begun to decline.

Also known as the Spanish oak, the Southern red oak occurs on dry or sandy upland sites from southern Long Island south to central Florida and west to Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

home page

The ‘Northrop’ Oak

Urban Forest Dweller Name: The Northrop Oak (White oak)

Scientific Name: Quercus alba

Recommended by: Aiden Stewart


IMPORTANT NOTE:  We did not put the boards in the tree.  Doing this to any tree is not recommended, but doing it to public trees is illegal.  Thank you Bill and the Reedy Creek Coalition for caring for this magnificent tree

Why remarkable: Hidden behind layers of saplings, vines, and briars lies a truly majestic white oak. Originally an open-grown tree on a historic estate, the Northrop Oak dwarfs everything around it with its sprawling canopy and stout trunk. You will easily be able to notice how this tree spent most of its life with ample space to grow outward, without any competition for sunlight. As the surrounding woods grew, the tree began to divert its growth more upward. Although the tree is in a public park, it is deceptively hard to locate (trust us!), making this tree all the more rewarding to visit.

home page

‘Trellis’ the Loblolly Pine

Urban Forest Dweller name: Trellis
Scientific name: Pinus taeda
Where: Westham neighborhood, northwest of the University of Richmond campus
Why remarkable: The gentle hills surrounding the University of Richmond campus are favorite growing places for one of Virginia’s most common natives, the loblolly pine tree. In the open, a loblolly pine would grow a wide, egg-shaped canopy, but gathered into crowds it engages in a fierce competition for sunlight and grows a massive trunk towering to the sky. But this particular tree is not remarkable for its height, or for its girth, but rather for the incredible load it is asked to bear. The most impressive wisteria vine we have seen crawls out of the ground like a snake and makes its own way to the sun on this tree’s stout bole. This one is an easy drive-by and a great photo op for kids who will have a blast climbing on the vines. 
home page

‘Umpa’ the Osage orange name:  Umpa
Notes: If you have spent any time near the Stone House at the highest point in Forest Hill Park, the odds are you’ve taken notice of this remarkable immigrant. Osage orange, Maclura pomifera, is a native of the Midwest, and its name is associated with the Osage Indians of that region. This specimen looks to be very old.  The first mention we know involving Osage orange trees in Virginia is when cuttings of this tree were sent back to Thomas Jefferson by Lewis and Clark. Meriwether Lewis wrote to Thomas Jefferson from St. Louis on 26 March 1804, a few weeks before embarking on the expedition. “I send you herewith inclosed, some slips of the Osages Plums, and Apples. I fear the season is too far advanced for their success.”
Jefferson was an avid botanist and would share the clippings sent back from Lewis and Clark with wealthy friends. Since this tree looks to be about that old, we’d like to think it possible that it’s a close relative of those first clippings that were sent back east by pioneering Americans.
Enjoy a walk around the base of this storyteller, and see if it tells you tails of wealthy philanthropists, trolley rides, amusement park goers, hoards of joyful sleigh riders, and hopeful unions of husband and wife. Such is the history of this storied knoll in South Richmond where “Umpa,” the great Osage orange of Forest Hills, stands his watch.
home page

Deodar cedar

Scientific Name: Cedrus deodara

Native/Naturalized: Not Naturalized

Status: alive

National Champion: no

Virginia Champion: no

Circumference: 228 in.

Height: 66 ft.

Crown: 103 ft.

Points: 320

Date Last Measured: 2018

Last Measured by: Ben and Stuart Blankenship

Date First Measured: 2012

Comments: The tree is healthy and in an open area free of competition. 2018: The tree is still very healthy since its 2012 remeasure. It has gained a lot in circumference since 2012.The trees crown is also much larger.

For more on deodar cedars, generally, go to this handy Virginia Tech Dendrology page.

home page

‘Ruby’ the Red Maple

Urban Forest Dweller name: Ruby

Scientific name: Acer rubrum

Where: Huguenot Woods

Why remarkable: Survivability

Notes: We do not often encounter a living tree that can be climbed by any old pedestrian, but this remarkable tree is just that. See how this Red maple (Acer rubrum) in some long past storm or flood was laid over to the riverbank? Undaunted, it braced itself with one arm on the bed of the river and has ever since lived in perfect health as a mostly horizontal tree. When damage like this occurs to the top of a tree, or something affects its vertical reach, often a side limb will take over as the dominant stem. Notice how the limb growing off the top of this tree almost looks like it is developing a root flair against the primary stem — like a tree on a tree. Be sure you go to visit this one with your kids and dogs. It is absolutely begging to be enjoyed. There aren’t many opportunities like this to walk your way right into the canopy of a tree.
Diameter: about 3 feet.
Height: Funny question for this tree. Length, which is usually height for a tree, is about 45 ft but sideways into the river.
Altitude: which is also normally “height” for a tree, is about 25 ft above the waterline.
How to find: Walk the Riverside Trail of Huguenot Woods in the James River Park System and look for Ruby at the river’s edge towards the eastern end of the trail. The map below only shows general position. The tree is on the river bank.
home page

Red Mulberry

From the amazing book, Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeff Kirwan, with photography by Robert Llewellyn:

“It is absolutely irresistible to kids,” says John Bouton, a long-time buildings and grounds superintendent at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, describing the reclining red mulberry at the Children’s Garden there. There does seem to be a pull to the tree — something easily witnessed when school groups, so dutifully lined up as they enter the Garden, are allowed to scatter and find their own places of interest. Straightaway they make for the tree.


Native/Naturalized: Native to Virginia

Status: alive

National Champion: no

Virginia Champion: no

Circumference: 188 in.

Height: 32 ft.

Crown: 71 ft.

Points: 238

Date Last Measured: 2018

Last Measured by: Greg Zell

Date First Measured: 2007

Comments: Old age specimen used as children’s climbing tree. Specimen is mostly prostrate and central trunk has split into two sections connected by steel bar. The two sections are completely separated but may share root stock. In good overall condition considering past physical damage. Trees like this often continue to live for many years. Method of measuring trunk circumference is debatable. Choice was to measure each trunk at 4.5′ along their main axis and then calculate a functional circumference using the two measurements. Measuring only the largest of the two trunks at 4.5′ along the axis of leaning trunk resulted in circumference of 114″. In addition, upon close observation of features, it is susopected that this specimen may be a hybrid between M. rubra and M. alba.


home page

Maymont Tulip Poplar

This massive and very old tulip poplar might be the most photographed of all of Maymont’s specimens. Weddings are held under its spreading crown and kids have played at its base for decades. Ask at the Maymont Nature Center‘s front desk how to find it on your next visit to this cherished Richmond park.

From the Virginia Big Trees Database:


Native/Naturalized: Native to Virginia
National Champion: no
Virginia Champion: no
Circumference: 314 in.
Height: 90 ft.
Crown: 86 ft.
Points: 426
Date Last Measured: 2017
Last Measured by: Ben and Stuart Blankenship
Date First Measured: 2017

Comments: Tree’s health is good to fair. Looks like it was struck by lightning a long time ago. There is a small 5 ft. hollow in the trunk, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting its health. This tree is likely 300-350 yrs old.

home page

Cucumber Magnolia

From the amazing book, Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeff Kirwan, with photography by Robert Llewellyn:

…it’s size, beauty and historic connections make it one of the most impressive trees in the state. It is also one of the most accessible, as it grows on a parklike piece of property in a modest residential neighborhood within a stone’s throw of U.S. Route 1.


Common Name: cucumbertree

Scientific Name: Magnolia acuminata

Native/Naturalized: Native to Virginia

Status: alive

National Champion: no

Virginia Champion: yes

Circumference: 276 in.

Height: 57 ft.

Crown: 98 ft.

Points: 358

Date Last Measured: 2015

Last Measured by: Jon Matiuk, Eric Wiseman, and Joel Koci

Date First Measured: 1986

Comments: Originally nominated in the 1970s by Betty Reid of the Virginia Travel Council. Re-nominated in 1986 by Julian Young, curator of the Violet Bank Museum. Newspaper article and old photos on file. Believed to have been planted in 1708. Tree is healthy and protected. Significant cabling and lighting protection in place. Lighting protection has worked in past as evident by black scorch on bark along cable. This tree has historical significance since it is in the yard of General Lee’s headquarters during the siege of Petersburg during the Civil War. General Lee could hear the explosion of the “crater” from this location. Some think the tree was given to the original owner of the home by Thomas Jefferson.

home page