Trees Not Granted Witness Tree Status

Every tree on this website which has been granted Witness Tree status appears in a photograph from the 19th century or the early 20th century (well, with a couple of special exceptions). For each of these trees, I have taken as accurate and precise a recreation of the original photograph as possible, from which I have compared the diameters of a given tree, calculated the tree’s growth rate, and then extrapolated backwards in time to estimate the tree’s age.

However, I must take into account that any given tree may have grown faster in its younger years than in later years; therefore, the only way I am willing to call a tree a Witness Tree is if my reckoning suggests the tree was already at least 30 years old at the time of Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

As a result, I have rejected many trees from this site that might be witness trees, but for which such a conclusion cannot be made a high level of confidence.

Here are 5 examples of such trees.

1. The white oak standing about 75 feet beyond the 2nd Maryland Infantry (CSA) monument on Culp’s Hill likely sprouted after the Civil War, even though its circumference is a hefty 102″. However, the white oak standing even deeper in the woods (indicated with a green circle labelled “WT”) is definitely a Witness Tree.

2. A white oak growing behind and to the right of the Alabama monument is larger than the witness trees behind and to the left of the Alabama monument on South Confederate Avenue, but it has grown much faster over the years. With a circumference of 73 inches, the tree very likely was not born until the late 19th century.

3. There is a large white oak – circumference 108 inches – which stands on the north side of Ayres Avenue as it makes its initial turn to the east. While there is a chance it is a witness tree, my calculations suggest there is a reasonable probability that it was born at or after 1863; without a sufficient cushion to allow for potential faster tree growth in its younger years, we cannot yet bestow witness tree status upon it.


4. A medium-sized whiter stands on Sickles Avenue just a few yards west of the monument to the 57th New York Volunteer Infantry, but I cannot with confidence call it a witness tree.

5. Finally, we have two white oaks which appear on the far right in this 1930s photograph taken of the woods near the intersection of South Confederate and Warren Avenues. The one on the right has grown slowly enough so that I am highly confident it is a witness tree, but its neighbor, with a faster growth rate, not so much; it likely sprouted in the late 19th century.