Wye Oak, Maryland

   Deceased :  June 6, 2002


From GREAT EASTERN TREES, PAST AND PRESENT by Colby B. Rucker, Bulletin of the Eastern Native Tree Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, Fall 2008

Wye Oak White oak. National champion 1940-2002. Wye Oak State Park, Maryland Route 662, Wye Mills, Talbot County.Measurement 1933, 1937, 1956: CBH 27’ 8”, ht. 95’, spr. 165’.1973: CBH 32’ 2”, ht.108’, spr 160’. 1990: CBH 31’ 2” ht. 79’, spr.102’. 2002: CBH 31’ 10”, ht. 96’, spr. 119’. The base was hollow, and the tree had an unusually great basal flare. The tree lostfour immense limbs. The largest, six feet in diameter, fell in 1956. The spread of 165 feet (before 1956) was probably a record for the species. Although some live oaks have had a greater maximum spread, their branches often rest on the ground. The Wye Oak was felled by a windstorm on 6/6/2002. Reference: American Forests, September 1955, p.33 (photo). Reference: Besley, Fred W., 1956. Big Tree Champions of Maryland. p. 48 (text/photo). Reference: Randall, Charles Edgar and Henry Clepper, 1976. Famous and Historic Trees. The American Forestry Association, pp. 82 (photo), 83. Reference: Preston, Dickson J., 1972. Wye Oak, the History of a Great Tree. Cambridge, Md. 135 pp. Reference: Davey/American Forests calendar, October 1990 (photo). Reference: Davey/American Forests calendar, April 1997 (photo). Comments: Although some complained that the flaring base gave the tree an unusual advantage, the circumference at 7.5 feet (immediately below the site of the largest limb) was a significant 22’ 3.5” (Rucker, 11/27/1969). Heights of 95’, 102’, 108’, etc. were exaggerated (false-top triangulation). The height was actually 87 feet (Rucker & Yingling, dropline 4/5/1989). The reputed age of 440 years was probably exaggerated. The tree showed a rapid increase in CBH over the years, although it was due, in part, to the incorporation of a knee into the trunk mass.


Wye Oak State Park
Wye Oak State Park consists of 29 acres, much of which protects the stream valley behind the park from development. The park is located on State Route 662 in the community of Wye Mills in Talbot County. This park primarily existed to protect the Wye Oak Tree which toppled on June 6, 2002. The tree site still exists and can be viewed from sunrise to sunset daily.

Wye Oak, Wye Mills, Talbot County, Maryland, the irreparable loss of our beloved old Wye Oak tree - by Dee Horney Gabler, June 7, 2002
On Thursday evening, June 6, 2002 Maryland lost forever one of our oldest and most valued treasures, the Wye Oak tree. A severe storm with high winds and saturating rains felled our beloved Wye Oak, Maryland's natural monument of almost 500 years of age. The Wye Oak tree, last dated at 460 years of age, was an historic landmark on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. With a heavy heart, I took these photos on June 7, 2002 the afternoon after the storm, about 18 hours after the fall of the great Wye Oak tree.


Wye Mills Oak, near Wye Mills, Talbot County, Maryland, on concrete road about 9 miles from Easton, Maryland. According to the tablet at root of tree, the Wye Oak was 375 years old in 1921. DBH 6 ½ feet; horizontal spread of branches, 140 ½ feet; height, 88 feet; largest limb, diameter 2 ½ feet. 1937. Negative #356086.

Maryland's Wye Oak
The fate of the Wye Oak on the Eastern Shore of Maryland was inevitable due to its venerable age and gradual decline. By the end of the twentieth century its massive core was hollow. The high winds of June 6, 2002, finally toppled the famous giant. From 1939 it was the centerpiece of the Wye Oak State Park, four acres which protected the tree's nearly half acre spread. Recent measurements placed the Wye Oak at over 31 feet around and 96 feet tall

Wye Oak
The Wye Oak was the honorary state tree of Maryland, and the largest white oak tree in the United States.[1] Located in the town of Wye Mills, in Talbot County, Maryland, the Wye Oak was believed to be over 460 years old at the time of its destruction during a severe thunderstorm on June 6, 2002, and measured 31 feet 10 inches (970 cm) in circumference of the trunk at diameter at breast height, 96 feet (29 m) in height, with a crown spread of 119 feet (36 m). It is believed that the acorn that became the oak germinated around the year 1540.

The Quiet Giant, The Wye Oak
Maryland's Wye Oak was long recognized as the largest white oak tree in the nation. Its stately presence in the village of Wye Mills in Talbot County had marked the passage of time for many generations. Since beginning its quiet unassuming life in the 1500s, it had seen the fall of a civilization and the birth of a nation.

The Last Wye oak Leaves
The natural leaves of the Wye Oak were carefully collected soon after the “Gentle Giant” fell. Each leaf was dried to preserve its natural veining and shape, and stored in a carefully controlled environment. Now, the State of Maryland has joined with Nature’s Creations to turn a limited number of Wye Oak leaves into unique, wearable art that will protect and commemorate the tree forever.

Wye Oak Seedling
Own a piece of Maryland History! This special offering of seedlings grown from a direct offspring of Maryland's historic Wye Oak is available for order now and shipment in Spring 2010. The two-year old seedlings (minimum 15" tall) are certified descendants of the Wye Oak and were raised at Maryland's John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery from acorns collected from an original Wye Oak offspring. The seedlings are limited in quantity and available on a first come, first served basis. Seedlings will be shipped in the spring with a certificate showing the authenticity and history of the famous tree. Price per seedling is $35 plus Tax. ( Maryland Only).

Photographs of the Great Wye Oak by A. Aubrey Bodine
(1944- 1961) Black and white