I love these trees, even though their shade makes it hard to raise veggies. I have about two dozen two hundred to five hundred year old live oaks on my property, and the trees are the main reason I bought the six acres in the first place.
It is also about 4 to 6 degrees warmer in the Winter and even more degrees cooler in the Summer under the canopy of the trees, and thus I get no frost when the temperature is just at freezing. And the leaf litter makes wonderful mulch for all of my flower and veggie beds--I just rake my 300 foot long sandy driveways, where the leaves will do no good for any plants, as the driveways are mowed two or three times a year.
But a forester told me that this is the largest and oldest of my trees--truly virgin forest--it was a baby when the Spanish were first exploring Florida, and there is some type of Indian mound on the ten acre property across the road. And Andy Jackson fought his most southernmost battle in the Indian Wars right here in this area, killing over 2,000 Indian villagers.
Old Town was the Indian name for this area, and apparently it had been an Indian village for perhaps thousands of years, where the people could live off of the bounty of the Suwannee River and the nearby Gulf of Mexico, and in the Fall gather the hickory harvest. I am part Cherokee Indian, so I'm interested in the local Indian history, and I'm trying to learn more about how the local tribe, called Tumacuans, lived off of the land, and what resources they used, especially the native plants for food and medicine.
So having one of these ancient trees on your property is truly a blessing, I believe--they have lived through so much!
I'm 1/8 Cherokee through my Father's side of the family, and supposedly they came from Kennesaw Mountain, north of Atlanta, Georgia. But I was born and raised in Mississippi, and lived in Gulfport, right on the line with Long Beach, for most of my childhood, so I was raised under old live oaks, and have always loved them. The whole Mississippi Gulf Coast was covered in live oaks before Hurricane Camille destroyed that whole area in 1969--now it is just a blur of motels and casinos.
I've just discovered than an old American Indian native plant--witch hazel--is a good remedy for poison ivy, which I have in abundance here!
Yes, unfortunately every time I leave my property I find another lot being cleared and built on. Most people will leave the largest trees, but some cut everything down, especially the people with horses, who want lots of sun and grass for their animals. For weeks I heard someone clearing out about five acres close behind me in a newer subdivision of "ranchettes" that is being developed with new doublewide trailers for people moving up from South Florida, mostly retirees who want to have animals.
We are also seeing a very recent development--very expensive condos being built along the Suwannee River and out in Horseshoe Beach, which has traditionally been a very sleepy and old fishing village of about 300 souls, and along the Stehinhatchee River, way out in "the middle of nowhere" as my Mother would have said. But this area of the Nature Coast of Florida is the absolutely last undeveloped coast in the continental US, and the increasing price of waterfront property is unbelievable.
This area is traditionally a very rural, and rather poor, part of Florida, and the powers that be are trying to develop the area in an eco-friendley manner, as we have beautiful first magnitude springs--50 million gallons of water a day, or more. And the fishing and hunting is incredibly abundant. But the highway about three miles from me is currently being cleared along one side for huge new power lines, and a new electrical substation is being built, preparing for the deluge of people expected to move into the area within the next few years.
As far as I know my County does not have any tree ordinances, and hopefully the new people moving in will value the old trees as much as some of us already living here--but I'm not counting on it.