Estimated between 500-600 years old, the Treaty Oak is one of Austin’s oldest and most famous trees located in Treaty Oak Park. Back in 1989, the Treaty Oak was poisoned by a disgruntled feed store employee and the historic tree nearly perished. But, thankfully, it survived and continues to thrive. The smaller tree under the canopy was planted from an acorn of the Treaty Oak itself as a “nurse tree.” Since live oak roots graft, the thought process was that it would help provide nutrients and support the growth of the larger tree after it was attacked. The Treaty Oak is the last remaining tree of a sacred live oak grove American Indians in the area called the Council Oaks. Why? The Tonkawa and Comanche signed a boundary treaty with Stephen F. Austin and his settlers in the grove. Today, the Treaty Oak is currently surrounded by a protective fence, but there are benches and a picnic table available for visitors interested in admiring its glorious canopy. According to Austin Parks and Wildlife, there are no current plans to remove the fencing, but you can still enjoy the sheer majesty of the Treaty Oak. Street parking is available on Baylor St. between 5th and 6th Streets.
Yum Yum Tree
This tree is fun. So fun. Located near the playground of Central Market on N. Lamar Blvd., it is an expansive marvel of tree perfection. Kids love to play under its comforting leaves, climb its generous branches, and be one with this truly kid-friendly natural wonder. After we grabbed our own “yum yums” at Central Market, we headed out to the tree where we met three energetic young ladies who had a lot to say about their love of the Yum Yum Tree. According to Maia, age 7, “It’s super fun!” Emma, also age 7, expanded on that sentiment and stated, “It’s special because there are lots of ways kids can climb on it and play.” And Merrill, age 11, said, “It’s giant! I love it because there are lots of things to do and I can climb everywhere.”
It’s a shame that this magnificent tree doesn’t yet have an official name. And no one knows for sure how old it is. But, according to Joshua Erickson, Urban Forestry Program Manager with Austin Parks and Recreation, “Without photos with associated dates, there is no way to know (the age). Live oaks are ‘diffuse porous’ meaning they do not have rings that can be counted like many other trees. I would estimate (it is) between 50 and 75 years old.” The Butler Tree, which is what I’m calling it now, stands out because of its incredible canopy that creates a pristine dome-like cavern perfect for a shaded picnic, meditation, playing music, or simply serving as an escape from a scorching sun or sudden downpour. The area underneath its nurturing branches is large enough for several people to freely walk around and enjoy the space. I love this tree because of its proximity to the Liz Carpenter Fountain and Doug Sahm Hill. The tree rests nicely on the edge of the wide-open field in the Michael Butler Park at Town Lake Metro Park next to the Palmer Events Center. Some of the area of the park is currently under construction, but visitors can still trek up the hill and feed the turtles and ducks. Remember– bread and crackers are bad for water critters. We recommend veggies and seeds. Afterwards, take a picnic and sit under the Butler Tree. Or whatever you’d like to call it. Parking is available next to the Alliance Children’s Garden by the Dougherty Arts Center located at 1000 Barton Springs Rd.