The Friendship Oak is a beautiful 500-year-old live oak overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus. The campus was formerly Gulf Park College for Women from 1921 until 1971. This magnificent live oak measures 59’ tall, circumference 19’9.5” with the average circumference of the limbs measuring 7’6”.
The Great Oak dates from the year 1487, and was a sapling at the time that Christopher Columbus first discovered the New World. Friendship Oak was the 110th tree to be registered with the Live Oak Society. At the time of registration (circa 1940), the tree’s trunk circumference was 14 feet (4.3 m). In 1950, the oak was featured in a Life magazine article about Gulf Park College, where students attended classes under the tree. Through the centuries, hurricane winds have defoliated the Friendship Oak and subjected its roots to seawater pushed inland from the Gulf of Mexico as storm surges. At least twice since the mid-1950s, acorns from Friendship Oak have been gathered to produce seedlings for replanting along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to replace live oaks that were destroyed by Hurricanes Camille (1969) and Katrina (2005).
Fun Facts: The Friendship Oak is a popular place to take photos. According to legend, those who enter the shade of its branches will remain friends for all their lives. In the 1920s, poet Vachel Lindsay taught at Gulf Park College for Women and read poetry to students beneath the branches of Friendship Oak
Address: 730 East Beach Blvd
City: Long Beach
Accessibility: can be viewed from vehicle/street; has accessible path