Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress

Historical Period: 20th Century (1900 & Later)
Historical Topic: Odds & Ends
Species: Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)
County: Real
Public Access: No

Big. Massive. Towering. These are the words often used to describe the incredibly large baldcypress growing at the aptly named Big Tree Ranch in Concan. A former state champion, its size has long been revered in this part of the Hill Country—a 1937 photograph of the tree is on permanent display at a popular local eatery, and for years it was included as an attraction on the Uvalde County driving tour. Today, the giant tree remains an awesome sight growing near the bank of the Rio Frio River, and it’s often visited by people anxious to see if it’s really that big.

The Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress was officially named the largest of its kind in June of 1965. As a tree of swamps and flooded waterways, it continued to do very well in the floodplain of the Frio River. When the Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress was measured again in 1990, it was 96 feet tall with a 112-foot crown spread, and a 34-foot, 3-inch circumference. Permanent signs at the Big Tree Ranch proudly display these impressive numbers, along with the tree’s onetime state champion status. Yet another formal measurement taken in 2013 proves the ancient tree is still growing.

Naturally, with size comes the question of age, and a core sample taken in 2009 gave the cypress a conservative age estimate of more than six hundred years. But the tree’s true age and size may remain elusive—a closer look at the Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress reveals it has no buttressed base. Over the years, the Rio Frio River has gradually covered the base of the tree with sand, silt, and rock. Texas A&M Foresters estimate that any formal measurements are likely being done 10–15 feet above the original base of the tree.

Longtime owner Roann Stoner Crawford has followed a less-is-more approach with the mighty tree’s care, allowing it to flourish naturally on the rich bottomland of the Rio Frio—this means no fertilizer and no spraying. “My husband Michael always said we were the guardians of both the river and this tree,” said Crawford. “I’m confident that the people who inherit this land will feel exactly the same way.”

The Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress is located on private property off Highway 127 in Concan.