Longwood, Florida

The Senator, Bald Cypress

3,500 year old tree was the second oldest in the United States, burned down by drug user who stated, "I can't believe I burned down a tree older than Jesus."

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Update: On 2/29/12, Seminole County police arrested a woman who confessed to causing the fire that destroyed the Senator. Sarah Barnes and a friend were smoking meth inside the tree, and using an open flame as a guide. After the fire broke out, Barnes took photos and video with her cell phone and later showed them to several people which led someone to tip off investigators. Apparently she left the fire burning, and the tree was engulfed days later, burning from the inside out. Though the park is still open, the tree is no longer standing. Original article below:

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Visiting one of the oldest living organisms in the world is actually quite easy. Thought to be the eighth oldest tree in the world, the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) affectionately known as the “Senator,” stands in a small park located in Longwood, FL.

Its estimated age of 3,500 years makes it only slightly younger than the carefully guarded Great Basin Bristlecone Pine of California known as Methuselah. To get a good sense of how old this tree really is, one must keep in mind the “Senator” was alive not only during the time of Jesus, but for 1500 years before that when the Greeks destroyed Troy, the Olmecs were powerful in Mexico, Solomon succeeded King David, and Stonehenge was being constructed. Unlike the secret location of the ancient pine, this cypress is very accessible to the public.

The “Senator” is the largest tree east of the Mississippi and currently stands at 118 feet tall with a circumference of 35 feet. A hurricane in 1925 damaged the top of the tree, shortening it from its original height of 165 feet. The tremendous size of the tree made it useful to both Indians and early settlers as a marker when traveling through the area. Tourists have frequented the area to view the tree since the 1800’s and the land on which it resides was donated to Seminole County by the late Senator M.O. Overstreet to ensure the preservation of the tree. It was in memory of Senator Overstreet that the cypress received its present name. Following the donation in 1927, a ceremony hosted by President Calvin Coolidge, officially opened the property to the public in 1929.

Surrounded today by the Spring Hammock Preserve, the “Senator” shares space with a companion tree known as “Lady Liberty.” This companion Bald Cypress is a comparatively youthful 2,000 years old and stands 89 feet in height with a circumference of 32 feet.

  • Address
    761 General Hutchison Pkwy, Longwood, Florida, 32750, United States
  • Cost
    free
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Map/Directions
This park is located on General Hutchinson Parkway between U.S. 17-92 and State Road 427 north of Longwood, FL.
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