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Quercus virginiana

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
KWER-kus vir-jin-ee-AN-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Live Oak is a medium-sized showy evergreen tree that may grow 40 to 80 feet tall. It has a broad crown and spreads between 30-60'. The tree has alternate leaves with smooth or spiny margins and pale, hairy undersides. 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. In spring, cylindrical, male flowers and female spikes mature. The tree produces a 3/4-inch acorn with a warty cap that covers about 1/3 of the nut. The acorn requires one growing season to reach maturity. It makes a magnificent shade tree for large areas with a broad spreading canopy. It is distinguished quickly by the leathery evergreen leaves with revolute margins and downy pubescent undersides. It is adaptable to to about any soil type. It is tolerant of salt sprays and wet sites. It is susceptible to root rot, oak wilt, and bacterial leaf scorch. It is found naturally in maritime forests and scrub on barrier islands. It is rarely found more inland and can sometimes be found in dry, fire-maintained places.

Fire Risk: This plant has a high flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home. Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Insects, Diseases, 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 and oak wilt can be a problem.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leathery leaves with downy undersides
  • oak with laurel-like leaves & revolute margins
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Shade Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#shade tree#bark#specimen#wildlife plant#native tree#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#park#lawn#coastal#wet sites#small mammals#food source#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#oak tree#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#problem for horses#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#shade tree#bark#specimen#wildlife plant#native tree#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#park#lawn#coastal#wet sites#small mammals#food source#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#oak tree#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#problem for horses#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Quercus
    Species:
    virginiana
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The wood is used for barrels, veneer, cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, and flooring and also has been used for pulp and firewood. It was used in ship construction especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States, Mexico
    Distribution:
    SE Coastal Plain of United States, from Southeastern Virginia southward to Florida, and westward to eastern Texas, and introduced to Utah.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    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.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This tree is resistant to damage by deer.
    Edibility:
    Acorns can be eaten after the tannin has been leached or boiled out.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    0.6- 1-inch egg-shaped acorns are produced singly or in up to clusters of 5 and have bowl-shaped caps with tiny sharp-pointed scales. Nut is long, barrel-or egg-shaped and dark-brown to black. Involucral bracts imbricate in cup covering 1/3 of the nut. Fruits are available September-November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    The male flowers are drooping, elongated clusters with 1 to 5 on pendulous catkins. Flowers bloom in April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Obtuse
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The thick leaves are 1.4 to 3.5 inches long and 0.8-1.5 inches wide, shiny on the upper surface and pale with short hairs underneath. They are rounded to oblong to elliptic-obovate, mostly without teeth but new growth and juvenile trees will have toothed margins. The leaves last into winter. Leaves are thickened and shiny on surface and are 1.4-3.5 inches long and 0.8 - 1.5 inches wide. Underneath is pale with short hairs but lack hairs in shade grown leaves. Leaves are alternate, simple, coriaceous, obtuse, base rotund to subcordate to broad cuneate, margins are entire, revolute, sometimes subundulate, glabrous and dark green above, and gray-tomentose below.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Black
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray, very dark brown, to black and scaly to blocky.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Young twigs are tan to pale gray and covered in short hairs. Becomes darker and nearly smooth in the second year. Buds are dome-shaped, 1/4" long, and have reddish-brown scales.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
    Wet Soil
    Wind
    Problems:
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Stomach pain, constipation and later bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination if the young leaves or raw acorns are eaten.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Gallotannins, quercitrin, and quercitin.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds