Bubba Purcell pic

Bubba Purcell used a three-foot chain saw to cut slices of a massive red oak that had fallen on his property. The process has thus far taken two full days.              Photo provided

An extremely old tree that provided shade and beauty saw it’s last day when it succumbed to old age. The tree, believed to be a red oak and located on the property of Bubba Purcell, was estimated to be 337.5 years old. Purcell spent days cutting the massive tree into manageable pieces.

Because he was unable to count the rings because of the hollowed out core, Purcell used a tree aging estimator algorithm. He measured the circumference of the tree 4 1/2 feet above ground, which was 265 inches/22.08 feet and divided that by 3.14 (pi) X the growth factor of the type of tree that the age is being estimated which was 4.0 The final number was 337.579618.  If he is correct, that would place the young sprout at around 1682, when Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn and 100 years before Williamsburg County was created.

According to SFGate.com, longevity among red oaks varies widely by species, some living a mere 80 years while others can live as long as 500 to 600 years. Leaves are distinctively narrow, three-lobed leaves, which grow alongside similar leaves with 5 to 7, often sickle-shaped lobes.

There are many primordial red oaks scattered across the country. According to a July 2018, article published in the Trib Live, a red oak was discovered on a property in Bell Township. The tree is estimated to be around 400 years old. Its circumference is about 26 feet and is 120 feet in height. Friend Joanne Martin said Purcell can build just about anything wood or metal so there are a lot of ideas waiting to be realized. “It’s big enough around at the circumference to make a huge round table that would seat King Arthur and his court or at least a holiday family get together,” she said. “Even the smallest limbs are huge.”

Purcell hasn’t indicated he will set out to create a table fit for a king but Martin says simply knowing the age of the tree is remarkable. “If trees could talk I wonder what this whole thing could tell us.”