Lafayette area – Rebekah Oak and La Belle Colline Oak

I’ve tracked down some wonderful 30-something oaks since my last blog post. The two oaks in this post are in the Acadiana area and were listed in the Trees Acadiana’s Top 10 oldest oaks list, but were a bit challenging to track down. No one had seen them in decades. The Rebekah Oak in Breaux Bridge was originally registered with the Live Oak Society by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Dermenstein Sr., probably back in the 1960s based on the tree’s low registration number (#681).

Rebekah Oak, color study 5

Rebekah Oak, color study 5 – 34′ in circumference

When registered, the Rebekah Oak was listed with a girth of 30 ft.  Today, the tree is approximately 30′ to 34′ in circumference, though the “bustle” shape of the tree’s trunk below about 5-6 ft. high makes it difficult to get an accurate measurement.

The Rebekah Oak was named after the granddaughter of the original sponsors.
Mr. Dermenstein passed on in 2001 and his wife followed him in 2014. Today, the oak’s caretaker is R.J. Dermenstein Jr. who still lives on the property where the tree is located in Breaux Bridge and could easily be mistaken for Kris Kringle on a Harley Davidson if you didn’t know better.

Rebekah Oak, infrared black and white study 4

Rebekah Oak, infrared black and white study 4

The oak appears to have been a “boundary” oak, meaning it served as a dividing marker between two property lines. The fence line between the Dermenstein property and his neighbor’s land runs directly through the Rebekah Oak’s trunk.

The next 30-foot girth tree in the Acadiana area is the La Belle Colline Oak.

I photographed La Belle Colline (in French, the name means “the lovely hill”) about an hour after sunrise in late September. This ancient oak overlooks a lush grassy pasture that slopes slowly away toward a distant line of trees where I could see cows grazing.

True to its name, La Belle Colline offered a beautiful view from beneath its wide-spread limbs toward what I suppose can be considered a “hill” in south Louisiana. Based on its location, and the intersection of four fence lines near the oak, it was probably used as a boundary marker years ago to designate where one property line ended and another began. The oak was registered with the Live Oak Society (#2219) by Camille Durand “Mamille” Johnson-Foret, and the land where the tree resides has been in the Johnson family for several generations.


La Belle Colline v 8

La Belle Colline and distant “hill”

Mrs. Johnson-Foret was the stepmother of St. Martinsville arborist, Jim Foret who I’ve mentioned in past blog posts (Jim helped me to measure and photograph the St. John Cathedral Oak back in August of this year). Jim is an excellent arborist and resource for information on the care and maintenance of old oaks as well as a great tree-friend.



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