Saplings from Emancipation Oak planted in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – 12 saplings from the Emancipation Oak were planted at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach.

Youth from the 4-H Guardians of the Planet of Virginia Beach planted the trees Saturday morning across the Brock Center grounds.

The trees will provide habitat for wildlife and a significant link to Virginia history for visitors.

The Emancipation Oak is an ancient sprawling live oak tree on the grounds of Hampton University.

During the Civil War newly freed slaves were educated in the shade of its branches, and it was the site of the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the South.

Ten years ago Hampton nurseryman Eddie Anderson planted a batch of acorns from the Emancipation Oak. In 2010 one of the seedlings was given to President Barack Obama for planting on the White House grounds. The remaining 12 offspring have since been growing at Anderson’s house. They now range from five to nine feet tall.

With their strong wood, low spreading profile, and tolerance of salt and sandy conditions, these native live oaks are perfectly adapted to the local environment, says the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.