About The Book

“Living Witness: Historic Trees of Texas (Texas A&M University Press, Spring, 2012) is a beautiful tribute to the natural heritage of the Lone Star State. Storyteller, Ralph Yznaga, celebrates the strong connections between Texans and their trees. His purpose is to share and preserve the rich history of Texas and its irreplaceable natural wonders. Inspired by the old Texas Forest Service book, Famous Trees of Texas, Yznaga has captured the continuing attachment we have to these magnificent reminders of our culture and history. Stunning images, stories, a detailed map, and driving directions to thirty-seven famous (and infamous) trees help us appreciate how entwined the lives of people and trees are.


Trees in the book include The Treaty Oak, memorialized in Texas lore as a meeting place for Native Americans and also as the site of Stephen F. Austin’s first boundary treaty with local Indians; The Burnt Oak, standing witness to the dramatic events leading up to the Battle of the Alamo, one of the largest known specimens of Quercus virginiana var. fusiformis; The Sam Houston Kissing Oak, said to occupy the location of a Houston campaign speech near San Marcos, where the “Old Hero” kissed local young women who presented him with a flag; The Great Goose Island Tree, believed to be more than a thousand years old; and many others.

The photographs in Living Witness premiered at the groundbreaking of the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Set to open in 2012, the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth, the arboretum will feature descendents of historic trees in the Hall of Texas Heroes.”

What Readers Are Saying:

“Trees are not something that make the news every night in Texas—or anywhere else. But perhaps they should, as they are so vitally important to our health, our culture, and our future. In Living Witness: Historic Trees of Texas, Ralph Yznaga’s labor of love stands as a fitting testimony to the majestic and essential role that trees have played, and will always play in Texas. I am not exactly a “tree-hugger”, but as a fisherman who loves nature, and as an anchorman who loves a good story, I highly recommend this book.”–Dan Rather, HDNET, and former anchor, CBS News

“People rarely associate trees with Texas. However, these (mostly oaks, which are more lasting) have indeed been witnesses to history, and even played a part in it. This book is a beautifully produced small gem and should be a part of every Texana collection.”–T.R. Fehrenbach, Author of Texas works like “Lone Star.”