For most of us, living through one tropical system is more than enough. Could you imagine surviving dozens, even hundreds of storms in a lifetime? One family of sorts in Wilmington has done just that. For an estimated 465 years a live oak has stood in the heart of what is now Airlie Gardens. Around the Airlie oak, stand several sister trees that are two or three hundred years old. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration since 1851, 49 tropical cyclones have come within 25 miles of these trees. "The live oaks are a very strong-wooded tree. Limbs will break off, but the main trunk will stay in tact and it will again flush new limbs and recanopy itself,” said Jim McDaniel. Airlie Gardens Director, Jim McDaniel said the secret is in the density of the live oak's wood. While a cubic foot of an average oak weighs about 35 pounds, a live oak weighs 55 pounds per cubic foot. This makes it a popular raw material years ago for ship building. "The most famous being old ironsides, which is the USS Constitution, was known to have cannon balls literally bounce off the side of the boat because of its construction from live oak,” said McDaniel. Mr. McDaniel said live oaks have adapted to their southern costal homes, helping many survive for centuries in the face of so much fury. Jim McDaniel admits to being a superstitious gardener. He refuses to speak specifically about the Airlie oak. He said he was worried it might jinx the tree, which he hopes will survive many more storms to come.
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