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New Orleans, Louisiana

The Tree of Life

This knobby, drooping New Orleans oak is a favorite place both for climbing and for meeting giraffes. 

Located in New Orleans’ Audubon Park, so-called The Tree of Life (officially the Étienne de Boray Oak) is not only one of the city’s premier tree-climbing spots, it’s also a surprisingly great spot for giraffe watching.

Named after the first mayor of New Orleans, and the man who was largely responsible for bringing sugar cane to the area as a primary money crop, it is likely that the arbor existed in the spot long before de Boray, but the land did eventually fall within the border of his sugarcane plantation. The tree was given its current, more accepted name, the “Tree of Life” by the locals. It’s unclear just how old the sprawling oak is, but given its size, the Live Oak Society, which chose the tree as one of its original inductees, believes it to be between 100-500 years old.

The gnarled, knobby tree is a favorite among the locals that know about it. It is noted for it’s eminently climbable branches with scraps of stray ropes and handles to help you climb up into its canopy. Lots of people also choose to have their wedding photos taken under the branches.

The real secret when visiting the Tree of Life is realizing that it abuts one wall of the Audubon Zoo, specifically that of the giraffe cage. So if you go at the right time of day, you can climb up into the branches (doubtfully legal), and spot the faces of the animals over the wall. Happy giraffe spotting!

Know Before You Go

Traveling on East Drive away from the River, the Tree of Life is located across a small patch of grass where Annunciation street ends.

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