History of League City Live Oak Trees

League City’s living legacy of beautiful live oak trees began in the 1870’s when George Washington Butler established his ranch headquarters in town, and planted live oak trees around it. Many of these trees are still appreciated today in Helen’s Gardens, at the north end of the 30 acres bordered by Main, Kansas and Walker Streets, and the GH&H Railroad.

These trees are descendants of acorns brought from Calcasieu, Louisiana, by the ranching families that settled the community of Clear Creek in 1854. Following an Acadian tradition, they brought acorns with them to plant on their new home sites. At first the acorns were planted on their ranches. Then Butler brought live oak offspring into town from his ranch on Chigger Creek.

After the community became League City in the first decade of the 1900’s, Butler asked its namesake, J.C. League, to ship flat cars of live oak trees to landscape the streets in this infant town on the bald prairie. Because Mr. Butler and Mr. League wanted every yard to have a live oak, trees were given to homeowners who could not afford the $4 price tag.

Continuing the heritage of the community’s founders, the League City Historical Society has created a Live Oak Tree Registry, with start-up funding from a Texas Forest Service grant. The registry is designed to encourage appreciation of the numerous values of the community’s live oak trees, educate owners on how to care for them, and encourage citizens to plant more.


League City Historical Society
Live Oak Tree Registry

The League City Historical Society has created a registry of live oak trees in League City with the help of a start-up grant from the Texas Forest Service. This registry is especially appropriate for our community since the live oak is the symbol of League City, and many of our trees are more than a century old. At this time we have registered more than 300 trees!

We are happy to register live oaks of any size, to promote the planting of new trees and the appreciation and ongoing care of old trees. We have a Master Naturalist measure each tree larger than a sapling, and record its GPS location. This information creates a baseline for measuring its future growth. It also ensures that future generations can identify a specific tree once owned by their family, even if the surrounding landmarks change over time.

We invite owners to name their trees if they wish, and we give them special certificates attesting to the information about their trees.

We measure the trees according to the official formula for the National Register of Big Trees, and calculate their total point index on this national scale. Index points are determined by adding the trunk circumference in inches, the height in feet, and 1/4 the canopy spread in feet.

In League City we have created 5 categories according to size:

         Majestic: 225 points or more
         Noble: 175 to 224 points
         Stately: 125 to 174 points
         Mature: 75 to 125 points
         Young: Under 75 points

Oak Tree Registration Form (PDF)

If you would like to nominate a tree for the registry, please contact Fay Dudney at 832-833-3330, Kathy Weisskopf at 281-554-6317, or write to the Live Oak Tree Registry, League City Historical Society, P.O. Box 1642, League City, TX 77574.

The League City Historical Society is a non-profit 501-c-3 organization, and an equal opportunity provider.


Benefits of Trees
From Houston Area Urban Forestry Council

  • Surgical patients who have a view of trees and landscaping outside their windows shorten their hospital stays by 8%, receive fewer negative comments in nursing reports and take fewer pain killers than patients who had no views. (University of Delaware study)

  • Patients take up to 40% less extra-strength pain medication when they have views of trees and landscaping outside of their windows. (Ulrich 1984)

  • Over a year’s time, one acre of trees offsets the CO2 produced by driving a car 21,000 miles
  • Studies found that nature and forest scenes tend to decrease stress in drivers and also tend to improve thought processes and problem solving skills. (Ulrich 1991)

  • The evaporation from a single large tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. (USDA pamphlet #FS-363)

  • One tree that shades your home will also save fossil fuel, cutting CO2 buildup as much as 15 forest trees. (NADF pamphlet #90980005)

  • Trees can reduce storm water runoff in urban areas by up to 17%, thereby reducing flooding. (U.S. Forest Service 1988 study)

  • Large healthy trees remove 70 times more air pollution annually than small healthy trees. (Dr. Nowak, The Effects of Urban Trees on Air Quality)

  • Trees in the 8-county area surrounding Houston remove over 60,000 tons of air pollution per year. (Houston Area Regional Forest report)

  • The canopy of a single large live oak can intercept up to 28% of a major rainfall, hereby reducing flooding. (AF: UEA executive summaries)

  • One acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe. (Parks People Book 2 – p, 31)

  • Consumer ratings are significantly higher for business district/retail centers with trees. (University of Washington, Center for Urban Horticulture)

  • In 50 years, one tree generates $30,000 in oxygen, recycles $35,000 of water and removes $60,000 of air pollution. (USDA pamphlet FS #R1-92-100)

Basic Care of a Live Oak Tree

  1. Do not cover the roots of a live oak within a 15 foot radius, nor cover the roots with fill more than one quarter of the way around the tree. The roots will smother and the tree will die a slow death.

  2. Avoid parking a vehicle under an oak, as it compacts the soil and smothers the roots.

  3. Add mulch around your tree, to allow air and nourishment to help the tree with its life process. However, do not pile mulch against the trunk of the tree. A gentle slope of mulch outward from the base of the tree is best. Do not create a volcano effect with mulch, as it can do more harm than good.

  4. If a live oak has been damaged by construction work or drought, it is helpful to give the tree a dose of root stimulator (note: this is different from regular fertilizer). It is not necessary to fertilize a live oak except when first planted, in order to give it a good start. Fertilizer will do more harm than good to a stressed tree. Mulch it instead and water it occasionally.

  5. During droughts soak the entire root zone under the tree’s crown canopy.

  6. If your tree’s canopy is very thick, you may wish to have a certified professional arborist open up the canopy to allow light and air to flow. If moss gets too thick, it may also need thinning to allow air to circulate more freely.

  7. Never have your tree topped (“dehorned”) or “liontailed” (thinned excessively, leaving only the outer branches). A good arborist will prune it so carefully that when he is gone it will be difficult to tell that he was even there.

  8. Do not drive nails into a live oak. If hanging a swing or tire swing, insert the chain or rope into a rubber tube or cushioned protection layer to prevent wear on the branches and inspect the device annually to make sure it is not rubbing or strangling the limbs as the tree grows larger.

  9. Do not whitewash the tree.

  10. If a tree is in a low area where the drainage pattern has changed and water sits for weeks at a time, provide for better drainage, as the oak’s roots can smother in water.

  11. Be very careful with herbicides. A tree is just a big, broadleaf weed to a lawn weed killer.

  12. Watch your tree for any signs of declining growth rate or crown dieback, as these are symptoms of root problems, which often can be treated successfully by a certified arborist if attended to early.