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Max--Tall, Dark and Handsome

The Commerce Bois d'arc is the tallest and biggest tree in the small town.
Photo by Prairie Rose Studio.

Windbreak Quarterly

"Windbreaks...the natural way to improve the value of your land and protect your investments."

Published September 16, 1994, by WINDBREAK QUARTERLY


He's definitely tall. And for the most part dark. And depending on your taste, some may even say he's handsome. Max is 44 feet tall, 19 feet in circumference with a 71-foot wide chest (or crown spread) and about three centuries old.

He's a native of Commerce with a family heritage that fought for the Indians, naturally fenced the wide-open range, posted boundaries for cattlemen and leveled homes build in the early 1900s.

A diamond in the rough, Max was discovered by local boy scouts in search of the tallest and biggest in Commerce. Once this living legend was found, he was cleaned up, given a haircut, and according to resident Rick Vanderpool, "a new lease on life."

"We cleaned out a huge area around him and Steve Houser (Dallas arborist) told us that when Max came out the next Spring we'd see a difference," said Vanderpool, Chamber of Commerce board member. 

Though Max does not say much, the city of Commerce says it all by honoring him, Max--the second-largest Bois d'Arc tree in the state of Texas! The city honors his and his ancestor's contributions with its annual Fall Bois d'arc Bash.

In addition to the games played with the apple-like fruit this tree produces, concessions, arts and crafts, and entertainment, the 5,000 Bois d'Arc enthusiasts are encouraged to drop by and pay tribute to ol' Max. 

"Trees that size (of bois d'arc) are rare because it's a working tree. You go out and find one like that in the bottoms and in the area where they grow and you cut it down because it's very valuable for the block for leveling houses and branches for fence post," explained Vanderpool, Bash chair.

"This tree is definitely a rarity."

Max, though he probably never dreamed "he" would get to be the hometown mascot, has since been registered with American Foresters, Famous and Historic Trees; initiated proclamation from former Governor Ann Richards and Governor George Bush, declaring the dates of the festival as Bois d'arc Bash days in Texas; and soon Max will be awarded a plaque which he will showcase for all to see who visit him.

While Max's childhood stories paint a picture of our state history, locals are hopeful he has many centuries ahead as a portrait of what the city of Commerce celebrates today and the resource his ancestors supplied long ago.

This year's festival was held September 27 through 29, 1994.

About the author

Windbreak Quarterly is a local newspaper in Commerce, Texas. "Windbreaks...the natural way to improve the value of your land and protect your investments."

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