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The Linden Oak, approaching its 300th birthday, is believed to be the largest white oak tree in the United States. It received this designation after the famous Wye Oak in Wye Mills, Maryland, was destroyed by a windstorm in 2002.
The Linden Oak is located in North Bethesda, Maryland beside the junction of Rockville Pike and Rock Creek Park's Beach Drive. The origin of the name "Linden Oak" is unknown, though it is a possible reference to Greek/Roman mythology when the pair Baucis and Philemon were turned into two intertwining trees upon their deaths; one oak, and the other linden.
The Linden Oak is acknowledged by three on-site plaques. The first, placed in July 1976 by the Maryland Bicentennial Commission and the Maryland Forest Service, celebrates the "Maryland Bicentennial Tree" for its great age. The second, placed by the Montgomery County Department of Parks (also 1976) celebrates the "Linden Oak" as "the fourth largest of its species in the state of Maryland and the largest in Montgomery County". An age of over 250 years, height of over 95 feet and crown spread of over 132 feet are cited. The third, placed by the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning (no date), honors Idamae Garrott, a local politician and champion of the environment. Owing to her efforts in 1973, the adjacent stretch of the Washington Metro (see lower photo) was built in an arc diverting around the tree to avoid disturbing it.
The impressiveness of the great tree is somewhat diminished by the fact that five of its enormous (and its lowermost) branches have had to be removed. One of the on-site plaques incorporates a photo of the tree in its former glorious state.
According to the 2011 National Register of Big Trees a tree in Indiana with a height of 110 feet and a crown spread of 138 feet is the largest white oak in the country. But at a height of 97 feet and a crown spread of 132 feet, when measured in February 2008 by the Maryland Big Tree Program, it seems the Linden Oak could replace the national champion.
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