Cellpic Sunday – The Old Senator Tree

The Old Senator

Saint Augustine, Florida.

As we rode the trolley train into the parking lot at the Villa 1565 hotel in Saint Augustine, the tour guide/driver pointed out a large live oak tree in the center of the property. As we drove around the tree, we were told the tree is named The Old Senator and core tests have indicated that its age is 600+ years old. It is one of the largest trees in the area and the sign by the tree notes the tree was a silent witness to Juan Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the Fountain of Youth just a short distance from here.

The year was 1513 and Ponce de Leon, then governor of Puerto Rico led an expedition in search of gold and the mythical fountain of youth rumored then to be on the island of Bimini. He landed on the mainland coast of North America near what is now Saint Augustine. Though he never found that fabled fountain, he did discover the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current that would be used to return Spanish ships to Spain more quickly.

There is some controversy as to the age of the tree, core sample notwithstanding. An article online at staugustine.com, mentions that Spanish authorities forbade the planting of large trees within 1,500 yards north of the Castillo de San Marcos. This was done to avoid giving cover to an enemy approaching the fort from the north. If the age of the tree is correct, it would not have been planted then but would have already been there, much smaller than it is today. It could have been cut down by the soldiers, but at that time, it was likely small enough to not be considered a threat to observers at the fort. Whether or not the age of the tree is accurate, it is worth a stop to visit one of the oldest and largest trees in the area.

About the photo: I captured the image with my Samsung S20U on a beautiful day in Saint Augustine. After cropping and straightening in Adobe Lightroom, I exported it to Luminar Neo, applied noise reduction, and applied just a touch of Enhance AI. That’s about it for adjustments.

I encourage fellow bloggers to create their own Cellpic Sunday posts. I never have a specific topic for this feature, and the only rules are that the photo must be captured with a cell phone, iPad, or another mobile device… If you have an image from a drone or even a dashcam, that’s acceptable as well. The second rule is to link your challenge response to this post or leave a comment here with a link to your post in the comment. Oh, and, you don’t have to post it on a Sunday.

John Steiner


  1. Interesting. To think of a whole other life before our country was a country. I am a tree nerd in it’s literal sense so I truly love this. Thanks John for always bringing us cool info John.

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