Friday, June 23, 2017

Another Ancient Cypress Landmarked in Livingston Parish

King George Bayou in Livingston Parish holds a treasure-trove of beautiful old cypress. I was fortunate to have been contacted by Keith Hemsteter, a former (now part-time) employee of La Wildlife and Fisheries who had recently signposted  cypress tupelo habitat recently added to the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area along King George Bayou. He came across a giant cypress he thought would be a good candidate for the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy. No doubt about this one! It has been awarded LPCL plaque #45.
Circumference: 21 feet (above the buttress)
Diameter: 6 feet 8 inches  Radius: 3 feet 4 inches
1st Boring: 5.37 inches   Rings counted: approx. 200
2nd Boring  3 inches       Rings counted: approx..144
Projected age: 1100+ years

Many thanks to Keith for discovering what at this point is the oldest known cypress in Livingston Parish and among the oldest in Louisiana!

Keith Hemsteter at the site of 1100+ year old cypress

Location on King George Bayou (which enters the Amite River) west of French Settlement

 A two inch section of one of the two borings taken. Rings shown here are farther apart than in other sections

Old growth cypress is plentiful along King George Bayou--much of it now in the expanded Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Estimated Ages of Bayou Barbary Trees Determined

Livingston Parish is yielding a bountiful yield of old growth cypress. 
Bayou Barbary has at least a dozen centuries old cypress scattered along its banks. Two representative examples are shown below, Upcoming blog entries will feature a magnificent very old cypress on King George Bayou which, like Barbary Bayou, is a tributary of the Amite River. We'll also be featuring a recently landmarked cypress on Abe Hoover Road in Livingston Parish

Bayou Barbary , Livingston Parish   N30°20.244 W090°40.605 (visible from Pete's landing)
Circumference : approx 16 ft, 1 inch    Diameter:  approx. 5 ft, 1 inch   Radius: approx. 30.5 inches
First  Boring (3/1/17) : 4.5 inches—Approx. 126 rings counted    4.5/30.5=126/ 854 projected rings
Second Boring:              4 inches—Approx. 115 rings counted     4/30.5=125/ 779 projected rings
                        PROJECTED AGE: 600+ years         LPCL Plaque #47  “Alive in 1803”

Bayou Barbary, Livingston Parish,  N30°20.184 W090°40.605
Circumference:  approx 15 ft.3inches,  Diameter: approx. 57 inches, Radius approx 28.5 inches
First Boring (3/1/17) 3 inches—approx,  80 rings counted    3/23.5=80/626 projected rings
Second Boring            4,75 inches- approx 98 rings counted   4.75/23.5=98/484 projected rings

Monday, January 2, 2017

Centuries Old Cypress Landmarked on Bayou Barbary,  Livingston Parish

On Christmas Eve, 2016, the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy landmarked with Plaque 47 a beautiful old cypress near Pete's Landing on Bayou Barbary in Livingston Parish. Although we have not yet cored the tree to determine its apporximate age, the circumference of this tree (photo below) indicates this cypress is was almost certainly "Alive in 1803" as the Plaque states, based on past  borings of similarly sized trees.

Location of this tree is seen in the map above

Bayou Barbary, a tributary of the Amite River contains many old growth cypress worthy of preservation.
We'll have updates on the age of the landmarked tree shown above and of other trees on Bayou Barbary (such as the one seen in the photo below) in a future posting.

If you know of any cypress in Louisiana that you may think were "Alive in 1803" and qualify as a Louisiana Purchase Legacy tree please let us know at In the upcoming year we hope to continue our quest to find the largest/oldest cypress in each Parish and add it to our registry.
To those who contacted us regarding landmarking  old growth cypress on their property --or have given us leads on where to find the big ones-- many thanks. We hope 2017 will bring us more appreciation and stewardship of Louisiana's unheralded natural treasures-- our old growth cypress.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

St. Charles Parish Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy Tree Threatened by Levee

Here is the story from the St. Charles Herald Guide about a St. Charles Parish Louisiana Purchase Legacy tree that is being threatened by levee plans.

Owner fights to save 300-year-old cypress

Tree stands in path of current levee alignment

Anna Thibodeaux
October 27 at 8:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Owner fights to save 300-year-old cypress
Hidden in a Des Allemands backyard is a towering cypress tree that's been described as a treasure, but its future is uncertain even though it bears a placard saying it's been alive since 1803.

Like a natural, historic monument, the tree stands in stately beauty in Murray Dufrene’s backyard. It also rests halfway on the proposed servitude being sought for St. Charles Parish’s West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, which could mean cutting the tree down to make way for the project.

“My position is I understand I have as much skin in the game,” Dufrene said. “I agree a levee needs to be built and maintained, but they also need to look at options to save the tree. I’m not interested in money for the tree. I want to save the tree.”
Dufrene has initiated a campaign to save what local county agents are saying is a “historical treasure,” which stands near the Paradis Canal and Grand Bayou at the toe of the existing levee.

In the last year, Dufrene has sought help to preserve the tree, but more recently GCR, the parish’s land acquisition contractor for the levee project, has advised it is seeking a portion of his property for a perpetual servitude. He is convinced signing that agreement will doom the tree and is prepared to go to court if necessary to save it.

“There was never an agreement on paper that the levee is on my property so they want to purchase a perpetual servitude,” he said. “They are saying they have no alternative but to cut the tree to meet FEMA’s standards.”

While Dufrene isn’t trying to stop the project, he doesn’t want to see this tree go under the blade.
“There are options that should be looked at for a tree of this magnitude,” he said. “This tree is about 14 feet or more in diameter and probably 70 feet tall.”

In a letter to state officials, Harvey Stern, coordinator with the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy said it is “likely one of the oldest living cypress in St. Charles Parish” based on the organization’s core ring sample taken in 2010 that put its age at more than 300 years old. Stern said he believed this tree would easily qualify as a  “tree of value” under Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) provisions to safeguard recognized trees (by age, size and cultural significance).

Stern also asked that the parish and Lafourche Basin Levee District give the tree the same consideration and protection.

Parish President Larry Cochran said they are reviewing Dufrene’s request.
“We are looking into this and are open to saving the tree if it does not impede work on the West Bank Hurricane Levee,” Cochran said. “However, this is a new development and we cannot commit to a decision without doing further research.”Calling it a “parish treasure,” Parish County Agent Rene’ Schmit also appealed to parish officials.

“I can say without hesitation that this cypress tree … is absolutely one of the most unusual, impressive and stately trees to exist in Louisiana,” Schmit said in an Aug. 29 letter to the parish government. “As there are only a handful of aged cypress trees left in the whole of Louisiana, it seems we would want to do everything possible to protect this ‘one-of-a-kind’ majestic tree located in our own backyard.”

Schmit said anyone who knows the parish’s rich history would also know it is a “unique and historical treasure.”

Mike Hebert, Lafourche Parish’s county agent who has assisted Schmit, also asked parish officials to find an alternative that could save a bald cypress that has “withstood all the tests of time.”
“No amount of money could replace a tree of such stature,” Hebert said. “Because there are so few trees of this age and physical health left in the state it would be a travesty to remove it from its current site in Des Allemands. It is part of our history and heritage and if left alone will continue its long life for many more centuries to come. It is a sound, healthy and vibrant tree.”
Dufrene added, “I am not willing to see the tree go down. I do feel very strongly about the tree.”

Friday, May 13, 2016

Terrebonne Parish Cypress Landmarked

Bonnie Caro, Berris Rodrigue, and Daniel Brien beneath 220+ year cypress

Congratulations to Bonnie Caro whose majestic cypress on her property near Houma is the first cypress in Terrrebonne Parish honored with a LPCL plaque (#45) proclaiming "Alive in 1803". Here are the measurements:
Circumference above buttress : 11 feet   Diameter: 42 inches  Radius: 21 inches
Boring sample 5.25 inches
Rings counted: Approx 65
Projected age: 220+ years
GPS coordinates: N29 40.175  W090 44.093

Although relatively small in circumference compared to other landmarked LPCL cypress, this tree likely originated in the type of environment that promoted slow growth for many years-- growth rings are closely spaced. The tree is located on Bonnie Caro's family homestead, originally settled by her Great grandfather. This beautiful cypress and several of similar size and full canopy on her property make it a favorite location in the Houma area for wedding photographs.

Until we find an older tree in Terrebonne Parish, this is the oldest live cypress we are aware of in Terrebonne. There are likely to be larger/older Terrebonne Parish cypress near Gibson-- we'll keep you posted. We're particularly gratified to find a healthy LPCL cypress this far south. It's no secret that saltwater intrusion, hydrologic modification and similar influences have substantially reduced the healthy cypress habitat in coastal Louisiana.  So, in addition to finding and registering the oldest cypress in each Louisiana Parish, we'd love to find  and landmark the the oldest and  southernmost cypress in the State.

Please e-mail any leads to Harvey Stern, coordinator, Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy

Monday, December 7, 2015

                  Ancient Ascension Parish Giant Landmarked

 FOX 8 Dave McNamara's "Heart of Louisana" Feature story on La. Purchase Cypress Legacy

Our quest to find the largest/oldest cypress in each Parish recently took us to the Martin lake vicinity of Ascension Parish, where Terry Matherne took us to view a beautiful old cypress he found on his property, located between Lake Martin and the Amite river.

This was truly an impressive cypress.
Here are the stats: Circumference: Approximately 21’10 “  (where the trunk meets the buttress)
Diameter  6’11”    Radius 3’ 5.5”
1st coring 2.75”  rings counted: 100+ 

 2nd coring 2.5”   rings counted: 60+    


Projected age: 700—1000 years  This is a conservative estimate;  if very close spacing of rings were to hold up through the entire radius, this tree would be well over 1000 years old. However, it is likely that the tree grew faster (with rings correspondingly further apart) in its early years and "adolescence". Coring samples are from later growth periods

You can follow our trek to this beautiful tree and learn more about our efforts to identify and landmark old growth cypress throughout Louisiana  by linking to David McNamara's recent Fox 8 "Heart of Louisiana" series feature on the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy here:

This is now the oldest documented live cypress in Ascension Parish and was awarded LPCL Plaque #45.  As a proud owner of this tree and of several other old growth specimens nearby, Terry Mathern's intent to leave his property in its natural state  exemplifies the stewardship of our natural heritage that can be found throughout Louisiana. 

Know of any cypress that may be larger/older in Ascension or in other Parishes throughout the state?  Let us know at

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shell Bank Bayou Cypress at Least 450 Years Old

N 30 09.910  W 090 27.033

           Here is the data on the landmarked cypress featured in the December BLOG entry.

Diameter 49 inches
Radius 24.5 inch
Bore obtained: 3.25 inches
Rings counted:  Approx. 90

Projected age Calculation:
                   3.25/24.5  (core sample/ radius)= 90 (rings counted)/x
X = 676 years

Based on a projected ring count of 676, a conservative estimate of the tree's age is 450 years. This estimate takes into account the likely faster growth at the tree's earliest phase of growth, which would show up in more widely spaced annual rings were a full radius boring (24.5 inches) obtained. As with many cypress trees this age, the hollow trunk precludes obtaining  a longer length boring; therefore a conservative age estimate is appropriate

Circumference: 12'10''

Vertical lines in section of 3.25 inch core (enlarged) show variation in spacing of annual growth rings. Closely spaced rings indicate slow yearly growth
Location of landmarked cypress-- upper center on map


Additional  old growth in small lakes south of Shell Bank Bayou (N 30 09.494 W 090 27.375)