Flaigg, Norman G.
Quercus virginiana P. Mill.
Coastal live oak, Southern live oak, Live oak
Fagaceae (Beech Family)
An open-grown live oak is a massive, picturesque, wide-spreading tree
with magnificent horizontal and arching branches that form a broad, rounded canopy. A squat, tapering trunk (larger in diameter than that of any other oak) supports the huge, irregular limbs which often rest their elbows on the ground. Dimensions are 40-80 ft. in height and 60-100 ft. in width. Dark-green, waxy, unlobed leaves fall just as new leaves emerge in the spring, making the tree
though the coordinated leaf loss means its not actually a true evergreen.
This is the familiar Spanish moss
-covered oak of plantations in southeastern North America. Its massive limbs and persistent, glossy foliage have sustained its popularity as a residential shade tree
to the present day. It is rarely found inland except in cultivation, where it becomes semi-deciduous and slower growing than those that receive the moisture-laden winds of the coast. Adequate water is essential to maintaining this tree,
though it is fairly drought-tolerant once established within its range. It is, however, quite susceptible to oak wilt where that is a problem, so treating surface wounds and avoiding damage to the roots is important. Though this is the best known live oak, there are a few North American live oak species also popular in residential landscaping, including on the West Coast, California Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia
Née), and, in southern Oklahoma, central Texas, and northeastern Mexico, Escarpment Live Oak (Q. fusiformis
Small), sometimes regarded as a mere variety of Q. virginiana
but currently considered a distinct species. Escarpment live oak has slightly smaller leaves, broadest toward the base, and acorns with cups narrowed at the base (fusiform). It is more drought-tolerant than Q. virginiana
and is commonly planted in drier parts of Texas. Both Q. virginiana
and Q. fusiformis
may send up dense shoots near or far from the trunk from rhizomes, sometimes so thickly that when mowed it looks like a groundcover.
Image Gallery: 15 photo(s) available
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TX , VA Native Distribution:
Coastal areas from s.e. VA to FL, w. to e. TX Native Habitat:
Sandy, coastal plains; moist hammocks USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist CaCO3 Tolerance:
None Heat Tolerant:
Dry to moist soils, whether gravelly, sandy, loamy or clay, but does best in neutral or slightly acidic clay loams; poor drainage okay. Saline tolerant and tolerant of compaction. Conditions Comments:
The species tolerates more shade in summer than most oaks because the evergreen
leaves can function through most of the winter. Can be damaged by long periods of freezing weather. Fairly drought tolerant once established, but susceptible, among other things, to oak wilt and chestnut blight.
A very large, long-lived, evergreen
shade tree. Use Wildlife:
Many species of birds as well as squirrels use the tree
for cover and the acorns for food. Use Medicinal:
The Houma used some preparation from it to treat dysentery. Use Other:
Live oak timber was once important for building ships. The nations first publicly owned timber lands were purchased as early as 1799 to preserve these trees for this purpose. Conspicuous Flowers:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Horaces Duskywing, White M hairstreak, Northern hairstreak.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for: