400-Year-Old “Jack’s Oak” Nears the End of Its Life

Glen Ellen, CA (November 25, 2013) – Amidst the 1,400 scenic acres that make up Jack London State Historic Park there are many beautiful trees, some estimated to be 2,000 years old and trees over 100 years old still bearing fruit. But no tree is as famous as “Jack’s” Oak tree, estimated to be nearly 400 years old, standing just outside the cottage that Jack and Charmian London called home. For the past year, an array of experts have assessed the status of the tree and all options to save it, but fear it has come to the end of its life cycle.

Jack's Oak TreeFor the past year, in close collaboration with the State of California, the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, which operates Jack London State Historic Park, has consulted many experts, arborists, naturalists as well as California States Parks’ senior archeologist examining the status of the tree and exploring any and all options to save it.

It has been determined that there are structural issues with the tree and also pathogens present that cause rot. Additionally, there have been at least three major limb failures in recent years. In December 2012, a limb measuring 30 inches in diameter, one of the sprawling branches on the side facing away from the cottage came crashing down in a storm, damaging the fence around the tree.

As a result, State Parks has identified the tree as a potential hazard and undertaken a number of steps to address this hazard, which may ultimately result in removing the tree. When and if removal of the tree occurs is currently pending the results of further tests.

“We share and understand the public’s sadness about letting the tree go. It’s a huge, beautiful oak that’s central to Beauty Ranch and has been a life force for wildlife and one of the largest producers of acorns for Native Americans in the area,” said Tjiska Van Wyk, Executive Director of Jack London Park Partners, which operates the park.

“Our goal is to preserve Jack London’s Beauty Ranch and guarantee that this historic State Park is safe and thriving for future generations. With that as our mission, we are planning to honor this important and majestic tree with several celebrations including having local children gather the tree’s acorns to be planted giving life to new Oak Trees.” Learn more about efforts to save, celebrate, and honor the tree.

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