Live Oak, Southern Live Oak


Pavilion, Walkways & Garden Areas

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Live Oak, Southern Live Oak

Quercus virginiana

  • Common Name: Live Oak, Southern Live Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus virginiana
  • Family Name:  Fagaceae
  • Origin:  Native to SE United States
  • Height: 60 to 80 ft
  • Width: 60 to 120 ft
  • Growth: Moderate
  • Zone: USDA Zones 7B through 10B
  • Light needs: Full sun to part shade.
  • Salt tolerance: Moderate - tolerant of salt wind and spray
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Can thrive in well-drained soil of any texture, pH requirements are adaptable.
  • Moisture: Very low water needs once established.
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Pests/Diseases: Galls, which are typically harmless, and aphids, which can be controlled with predatory insects. Boring insects will attack stressed trees. Oak wilt occurs in Texas but is not a problem in Florida at the moment.
  • Growing conditions: This highly adaptable tree can grow in many soil types and is very drought tolerant. Although it can handle dryness, the soil should be kept moist to keep the tree in its best health. Keep in mind that the roots will get very large and spread as the tree grows. It should be given some room to itself away from sidewalks, driveways, and other structures. The tree should be pruned early on to establish good branching structure, eliminating multiple trunks and any branches which grow at a narrow angle with the trunk.
  • Characteristics: This large, stately tree has a wide, spreading crown which provides ample shade. The trunk is reddish-brown when young, turning gray with age and developing deep, blocky furrows. The thick, spreading branches grow at twisting angles with some growing close to the ground. Leaves are simple, elliptic, with an entire margin, growing alternately along the stem. Leaves may have pubescence on the underside. Flowers are small, yellowish-green, inconspicuous catkins. Fruit is an acorn, with a scaly cap and a dark brown nut.
  • Propagation: By seeds or by cuttings.
  • Wildlife: The trunk, leaves and branches provide important habitat for various animal species. The acorns are a food source for squirrels and other animals.
  • Facts: The name “live oak” comes from the fact that this oak retains its leaves throughout winter, as opposed to other oaks that lose their leaves and appear to be dead. Rather than dropping their leaves in the fall, live oaks replace their leaves throughout the year, mostly during the beginning of spring.
  • Designer considerations: This large tree provides ample shade and is a common sight next to walkways and driveways. Keep in mind that the branches often droop very low, and the roots spread wide, so this tree should not be planted directly next to sidewalks - planting it a small distance away will allow the large canopy to provide shade without cramping the roots and branches.