Live Oak


Fallen leaves and acorns

Introduction

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.

Common Name

Live oak

Latin Name

Quercus virginiana

Leaf

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

Flower

Male flowers are green hanging catkin

Fruit/nut

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

Twig/branches

Long, thin, straight, slightly hairy

Bark

Dark, thick, and furrowed longitudinally

Form

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.

Size

Can grow from 40 to 80 feet tall and may span up to 150 feet wide

Native Range

Primarily endemic along the Gulf Coast, from southeast Virginia to Florida and west to Texas

Type

Medium to large deciduous

Seasonal Colors

The leaves turn a rust-red or brown in the fall

Soil

Grows on a wide range of soils but prefers moist, well-drained sandy soils

Light

Prefers full to partial sun

Similar Species

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.

Rebate Eligibility

$100

Of Note

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.

Photo Credits

Karen Blix
Karen Blix(2)
Diorama Sky
Old Shoe Woman
briweldon
cm195902