Hancock County Live Oak Tree Registration

Trees in the road on Front StreetAn old postcard showing trees in the road
on Front Street, Bay Saint Louis

Quercus virginiana, also known as the Southern Live Oak, has been part of our landscape for as long as anyone can remember. These majestic trees with Spanish moss hanging from their wide-spread branches are iconic of the Old South. And even in previous times they enjoyed somewhat of a privileged status. When Front Street in Bay Saint Louis was widened, the trees were not cut but simply left standing in the road.

Live Oak trees in Hancock County have been registered with Mississippi's Société des Arbres since 1973, with the intention of protecting and conserving these natural resources that add historical, aesthetic and environmental value to our area. First coordinated by the garden clubs and since 1993 by the Hancock County Historical Society, it became a combined effort between the Historical Society and the Bay-Waveland Garden Club after hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As of Fall 2016, there are almost 500 trees registered in Hancock County.


If you have a tree that you think qualifies you can fill out our online request form.

Paper forms can also be picked up and dropped off at the Historical Society, or mailed to this location.

Hancock County Historical Society
108 Cue Street
Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520

Click here to download a paper request form

After the form has been received, someone will contact you and make an appointment to come out to measure and record the necessary data for trees that qualify. Requests are taken in the order that they are received. All documents are kept on file at the Hancock County Historical Society.

Sample plaque4"x6" plaque

Registered trees will receive a certificate free of charge. If you would also like a 4" x 6" plaque to mount on the tree itself, they can be ordered at $15.00 each.

Several types of decorative, locally hand-crafted wooden backings are available.

Outside Hancock County

If your tree is not located in Hancock County, or if you want to register a tree other than a Live Oak, you can contact the Société des Arbres directly: Beverly Watson, Registrar-Historian/Co-Chair, 228-219-9560, bsmwatson@cableone.net


Trees considered for registration must be located within Hancock County, Mississippi, and have to be located on privately owned property.

Measuring a tree's circumference

The tree has to have a circumference of 113 inches or greater (which is a diameter of 3 feet or more), measured at 4-1/2 feet from the ground. This puts the tree at an estimated age of 100 years or older.

If the tree forks below 4.5 feet then measure the circumference of the largest fork at 4.5 feet. If the tree forks at 4.5 feet, then measure the circumference at the smallest place below the fork. Needless to say, swellings, buttresses or large lumps have to be avoided.

If you have a particularly odd-shaped tree and are not sure where to measure, don't hesitate to email Shawn and ask.

Measuring a tree's circumference

The easiest way to measure circumference is to use a flexible tape measure or a non-stretch string and a ruler. Make sure the tape or string is perpendicular to the axis of the trunk and is not twisted, or your measurements won't be accurate.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Shawn at treeregistry@gmail.com.


If your tree was registered more than 10 years ago we would like to hear from you as to whether your tree(s) is still alive. We will come out upon request and re-measure your tree to update our records and provide you with new documentation. You will also have paperwork provided to register your tree with the Société des Arbes.


Our native trees, particularly our live oak trees, are one of nature’s gifts to us. Trees provide so many benefits to us in terms of shade, aesthetics, property value, utility usage and the like, that we need to be cognizant of how we can preserve them. And we need to be aware that we can unwittingly damage trees through soil compaction and common construction techniques. The information in the two links below provides detailed advice on advance planning and site preparation for construction. But a good rule of thumb to follow is “nothing under the dripline” (how far out the branches extend on the tree). This means protective fencing should be erected around the dripline of the tree and nothing should be placed inside it; no materials, no trucks, no equipment. Also avoid putting too much soil around the base of the tree as that will smother the roots.

Preserving Trees in Construction Sites (Mississippi State University, 2004)

Plan Before You Grade (Southern Living, December 1985)

The Historical Society has printed materials on tree preservation available in addition to what's available on this website. If you have further questions about tree health, please contact the Mississippi State University Extension Service or a licensed arborist.

Shawn & Jim measuring a Live OakShawn & Jim measuring a Live Oak

216 North Beach Boulevard, Bay Saint Louis Live Oak with shoo-fly at 216 North Beach Boulevard, Bay Saint Louis

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Hancock County Historical Society
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