COMO YOU KNOW: McBaine bur oak tree

Sunday, February 26, 2012 | 2:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:24 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014
The 350-plus-year-old big bur oak, which is planted on John Sam Williamson Jr.'s property, has such a strong genetic makeup that it has survived extreme flood and drought. The tree's superior genes make it ideal for grafting.

CoMo You Know, a community wiki, adds context to stories of local interest and serves as a reference tool for readers.


The largest bur oak tree in Missouri is located along Burr Oak Road. According to the National Register of Big Trees, the tree is a national co-champion with another bur oak in Woodford, Ky.


Location: Along Burr Oak Road in McBaine

Owner: John Sam Williamson

Age: approximately 350 years old

Height: 90 feet high

Spread: 130 feet across

Circumference: 287 inches 

Full text

Missouri's largest bur oak tree is about a mile away from McBaine in Boone County.

According to the National Register of Big Trees, which last measured the tree in 2006, the bur oak is 90 feet high, has a 130-foot spread and a circumference of 287 inches.

In the 1950s, the MU Forestry Club took a core sample from the tree. This is done to help determine a tree's age without cutting it down by counting the number of rings. The sample showed the tree was about 300 years old, making it about 350 years old now.

The owner, John Sam Williamson, inherited the land and the tree from his father. During flooding in 1993, the tree was surrounded by six feet of water. It  has also survived numerous lightning strikes.

How to get there

From the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road, head south on Providence for about 10 miles. After a few minutes, the road turns into State Highway K and then Burr Oak Road.

Conservation Efforts

Because the McBaine Bur Oak Tree is so old, numerous efforts have been made to preserve its genetic material and reverse its general decline. To do this, many people have taken grafts from the tree. These are pieces of the tree that are cut and later replanted.

The grafts have the same genetic material because they are part of the tree. If seedlings were used, the bur oak would only supply about half the DNA.

Links and sources

Columbia Missourian stylebook

McBaine bur oak tree's DNA to be preserved

Arborists work to preserve McBaine bur oak

National Register of Big Trees

McBaine bur oak tree Facebook fan page

Map of tree's location

Updated: Feb. 26, 2012

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.