The 12 Finest Trees in Texas: A Photo Tour of the State's Pretty, Historic, Beloved Live Oaks & More

Categories: Texas

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Photos by Texas A&M Forest Service
Texans love their trees, whether they're being used for climbing, for getting some desperately needed August shade or as easy-to-remember landmarks for locals making plans to meet each other.

To be sure, there are some less peaceful uses of trees in Texas history: lynching, sniping, chaining people to trunks. But those ugly aberrations -- while they should never be forgotten -- should probably be blamed more on residents than on the trees.

So it's with a clear conscience that we can celebrate Texas trees. The Texas A&M Forest Service has long done so, designating a growing number of "Famous Trees of Texas." In the past 40-plus years, they've given the designation to 87 trees, 65 of which are still living.

The trees can be famous for their beauty, for their historical significance or for having a special place in the hearts of locals.

Let's look at the 12 best -- all still living. Like the one above.

12. Matrimonial Oak, San Saba County
A sturdy, shady Texas live oak sitting on the shoulder of a country road, creating a natural tunnel -- that's Texan. Native Americans and newly arrived residents living in "the horse-and-buggy days," the TAMUFS says, all found this tree to be linked to weddings, either getting on one knee under its branches to present an engagement ring, or coming back some time later to have the ceremony in its shade.

And the other 11:

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11. Ben Milam Cypress, San Antonio
The clash between old and new Texas is stark here: A tree that's seen plenty of history is bang-up against a parking garage. The Ben Milam Cypress, located at the intersection of the San Antonio River and the Riverwalk in the Alamo City. It was from this tree, legend has it, that a Mexican sniper took out Ben Milam with a shot to the head in December 1835. The tree was a favorite spot for snipers to take out Texans trying to go up- or downriver.

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10. Century Tree, Texas A&M campus
Well, you'd have to figure the Texas A&M Forest Service would find a way to honor a tree in Aggieland. Let's let them have the stage:
Walk under the boughs of the Century Tree with a lover and you will be together forever: so goes the tradition at Texas A&M University. Many an Aggie skirts the spot, while others seek every chance to visit this immense live oak. Large drooping branches rest on the ground, providing ample opportunity for young co-eds to linger with hope for the future.

Yes, that's what coeds do at college campuses: Mooningly pursue their MRS degrees.

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This list needs to be amended to included that killer oak on the grounds of the Alamo. 

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