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Live Oak, Common Tree in North America

Quercus virginiana, 100 Common Trees in North America

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Live oak is a symbolic tree of the Deep South. Q. virginiana has a squat and leaning form with a large diameter tapering trunk. The leaves are semi-evergreen, are waxy and resist to salt spray which allow the tree to live on the southern coast and on barrier islands. The acorns are the primary food for coastal wildlife.

Images of Live Oak

Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of the live oak. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Fagales > Fagaceae > Quercus virginiana P. Mill. Live oak is also commonly called Virginia live oak, scrub live oak and sand live oak.

The Range of Live Oak

Live Oak Range
USGS
Live oak is found in the lower Coastal Plain of the Southeastern United States from southeastern Virginia south to Georgia and Florida including the Florida Keys; west to southern and central Texas with scattered populations in southwestern Oklahoma and the mountains of northeastern Mexico.

Live Oak at Virginia Tech Dendrology

Live oak (Quercus virginiana), also called Virginia live oak, is evergreen with a variety of forms, shrubby or dwarfed to large and spreading, depending upon the site. Usually live oak grows on sandy soils of low coastal areas, but it also grows in dry sandy woods or moist rich woods. The wood is very heavy and strong but is little used at present. Birds and animals eat the acorns. Live oak is fast-growing and easily transplanted when young so is used widely as an ornamental. Variations in leaf sizes and acorn cup shapes distinguish two varieties from the typical, Texas live oak and sand live oak.

Fire Effects on Live Oak

If top-killed, young live oaks sprout from the root collar and from roots. Most sprout growth occurs in the first postfire year. Seven months after a prescribed fire in Florida, the mean height for sand live oak sprouts was 9.5 inches (24 cm). The mean height remained near 12 inches (30 cm) for the next 5 years. After this fire, sand live oak returned to preburn levels of dominance with respect to cover in 2 to 3 years. The number of sprouts declined with time.

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