- Common Name(s):
- Live oak
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Quercus virginiana, commonly called live oak, is a large, long-lived, evergreen oak that typically grows 40-80’ tall with a short trunk, low branching and a broad-spreading rounded crown. It is native to coastal plains and woods from Virginia to southern Florida and Texas. This is a majestic tree whose massive spreading limbs and branches are often seen draped with Spanish moss in many parts of its range. Live oaks were planted along many old southern plantation roads and over time have become a symbol of the South.
The bark in young trees is characterized by red-brown furrows with small surface scales. As the tree ages, the bark becomes black and very blocky.
Its wood makes excellent fuel because of its high density.
Regions: Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Bloom: Early spring Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall
Wildlife Value: The Live oak is a host plant for the Banded Hairstreak, Edward's Hairstreak, Grey Hairstreak, White-M Hairstreak, Horace's Duskywing, and Juvanals Duskywing butterflys. It's acorn are eaten by woodpeckers, blue jays, small mammals, wild turkeys and ducks. This tree is resistant to damage by deer.
Insects, Disesaes, and Other Plant Problems: This is a relatively problem-free tree. Insect galls may damage foliage appearance but do not affect the health of the tree. Root rot can be a problem in coastal areas. Oak wilt is also sometimes a problem.
- 30-50 ft.
- The Live oak has insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins that appear in the spring. The flowers are drooping, elongated clusters with 1 to 5 on a stalk. It's fruits are ellipsoidal acorns (to 1” long), with scaly cups that extend to approximately 1/3 the acorn length. They mature in one season.
- Evergreen or deciduous
- Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. In areas where it is winter hardy, it is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils.
- Massive, wide spreading; horizontal and arching branches; picturesque with age
- Full sun
- Southeast US, Mexico
- Poison Part:
- Acorns (seeds of nuts) and young leaves.
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Stomach pain, constipation and later bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination
- Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out. Only collect nuts from areas you know have not been contaminated or sprayed with chemicals.
- Toxic Principle:
- Gallotannins, quercitrin, and quercitin.
- CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN.
- Found in:
- Forest or natural areas; landscape as ornamental and shade trees.
- 50-80 ft.
- Growth Rate:
- Slow to moderate
- The Live oaks leaves are 1.3 to 3 inches. They are alternate, simple, elliptic to obovate, leathery, shiny dark green leaves and have smooth edges.
NCCES plant id: 2182