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Quercus virginiana

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 long-lived evergreen tree that may grow 40 to 80 feet tall. It is found in the coastal plains of VA, NC and southward along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It has a broad crown, rarely grows over 50 feet tall with gnarled branches reaching out to 40 to 100 feet wide, often seen with Spanish moss hanging from them.  It is not a true evergreen but retains its leaves until the new ones begin to leaf out.

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 adaptable to both clay and sandy soils that are acidic and well-drained, can handle periodic flooding and salt spray.

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:
Coastal Foundation Garden Shade Garden Coastal Shady Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#shade tree#bark#specimen#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#park#lawn#coastal#wet sites#small mammals#food source#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#nighttime garden#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#pollinator garden#problem for horses#audubon#moth larva#banded hairstreak butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#imperial moth#juvenal’s duskywing butterfly#edward’s hairstreak butterfly#white-m hairstreak butterfly#horace’s duskywing butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#shade tree#bark#specimen#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#park#lawn#coastal#wet sites#small mammals#food source#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#nighttime garden#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#pollinator garden#problem for horses#audubon#moth larva#banded hairstreak butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#imperial moth#juvenal’s duskywing butterfly#edward’s hairstreak butterfly#white-m hairstreak butterfly#horace’s duskywing butterfly
  • 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.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Oak trees support a wide variety of Lepidopteran. You may see Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed. Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus), which have one flight from June-August everywhere but Florida where they emerge April-May. Edward's Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii), has one flight from May-July in the south and June-July in the north. Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), has three to four flights in the south from February-November and two flights in the north from May-September. White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) has three broods in the north from February-October. Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius) has three broods in Texas and the deep south from January-November, and two broods in the north from April-September. Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis) has one brood from April-June, appearing as early as January in Florida. 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. - 100 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:
    0.75- 1-inch egg-shaped acorns on long stalks are produced singly or in up to clusters of 5 and have bowl-shaped caps with tiny sharp-pointed scales 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 alternate thick green leaves are 2-5 inches long and 0.8-1.5 inches wide, shiny on the upper surface and pale with gray tomentose hairs underneath. They are rounded to oblong to elliptic-obovate in shape with margins mostly entire but new growth and juvenile trees will have toothed margins. The base is round to subcordate to broad cuneate. The leaves last into winter.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Bark Description:
    The bark is dark brown tinged with red and slightly furrowed
  • 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
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    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