Sometimes regarded as a symbol of the southern United States, the grand live oak has an immense shade area that makes it well-loved as a gathering and resting place.
Stiff and leathery, with upperside a shiny dark green and underside pale gray and very tightly tomentose*; alternating, simple and typically flattish with bony-opaque margins
Male flowers are green hanging catkin
Acorns: small, oblong in shape (ovoid or oblong-ellipsoid), shiny and tan-brown to nearly black, often black at the tips, and borne singly or in clusters
Long, thin, straight, slightly hairy
Dark, thick, and furrowed longitudinally
Typically multi-stemmed, the trunk branches out midway up and the lower limbs often sweep down towards the ground before curving up again, giving the live oak a distinctive form that covers a wide area.
Can grow from 40 to 80 feet tall and may span up to 150 feet wide
Primarily endemic along the Gulf Coast, from southeast Virginia to Florida and west to Texas
Medium to large deciduous
The leaves turn a rust-red or brown in the fall
Grows on a wide range of soils but prefers moist, well-drained sandy soils
Prefers full to partial sun
Chinkapin oak, overcup oak, white oak
Pests and Diseases
A wilt disease attributed to Ceratocystis fagacearum has been reported in Texas where it is killing thousands of trees annually. Pests include borers that commonly attack the roots of young oaks. Spanish moss may damage trees because it accumulates in great abundance and decreases light reaching the interior and lower parts of the crown.
The frame of USS Constitution was constructed from southern live oak wood harvested from St. Simons Island, Ga., and the density of the wood grain allowed it to survive cannonade, thus earning it the nickname “Old Ironsides.”
Native Americans extracted a cooking oil from the acorns, and used all parts of the live oak for medicinal purposes, rugs, and dyes.
The live oak is a long-lived tree; live oaks older than 500 years were once common, and one, the Angel Oak on Johns Island, S.C., is estimated to be around 1,400 years old.
The Emancipation Oak is an historic oak in Virginia where the Emancipation Proclamation was allegedly first read in the southern states in 1863.