Overview

Brief Summary

Fagaceae -- Beech family

    W. R. Harms

    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 (Q. uirginiana var. fusiformis  (Small) Sarg.) and sand live oak (Q. virginiana  var. geminata (Small) Sarg.) (4).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Comprehensive Description

Description

General: This native tree can grow to an average of 50 feet tall and 36-48 inches in diameter, but can have trunks over 70 inches in diameter. The bark is furrowed longitudinally, and the small acorns are long and tapered. The bark and twigs are dark to light grayish color and becomes darker with age. The leaves are thick, shiny, and dark green on top, lighter below. Small flowers are produced when new leaves are grown. The fruit, which is an acorn, has a 1 inch long cup, somewhat narrowed at the base. Root crowns and roots survive fire and sprout vigorously.

Distribution: Live oak is most commonly found on the lower Coastal Plain of southeastern United States.

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Virginia live oak

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Southern live oak occurs on the lower Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States
from southeastern Virginia to Florida, including the Florida Keys, and west
to southeastern Texas [21,31].
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]
  • 31. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains

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Occurrence in North America

AL AR FL GA KY LA MS OK NC SC
TN TX VA MEXICO

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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 (4).

   
  -The native range of live oak.


  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.C., S.C., Tex., Va.
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Live oak is an important component of maritime hammocks and scrub lands throughout its range from Virginia to Florida, including the Florida Keys. Westward, it ranges into Texas, where it is found to the east end of the Brazos River. West of the Brazos, Texas live oak (q.v. var. fusiformis) dominates (Simpson 1988).The range of live oak corresponds to southeastern maritime strand communities (Oosting 1954) which lie southward of the 5.5? C (41.9? F) isotherm for average daily minimum temperatures in the coldest month of the year, typically January (Johnson and Barbour 1990). Live oak is widely distributed throughout the Indian River Lagoon system in maritime hammocks bordering coastal and inland wetlands. It is typically found in live oak-sea oats communities, live oak-slash pine communities, sand pine scrub communities, and the uplands of oak-pine forests. Live oak is somewhat more common in the northern portion of the lagoon around Cape Canaveral. South of this area, live oak and its associated species are gradually replaced by tropical shrubs (Myers and Ewel 1990).
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Adaptation

Live oak grows in moist to dry sites. It withstands occasional floods, but not constant saturation. It is resistant to salt spray and high soil salinity. Live oak grows best in well-drained sandy loam soils but also grows in clay and alluvial soils. Live oak is intermediate in shade tolerance.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: tree

Southern live oak is a shrubby to large and spreading, long-lived, nearly
evergreen tree. It drops its leaves and grows new leaves within several
weeks in the spring. Open-grown trees average 50 feet (15 m) in height
and 36 to 48 inches (91-122 cm) in d.b.h., but can have trunks up to 79
inches (200 cm) in d.b.h. The rounded crowns may span 150 feet (46 m)
or more [20,21]. Lower limbs sweep to the ground and then curve upward.
Southern live oak growing at an angle of up to 45 degrees can still support a
great mass of limbs. The bark is furrowed longitudinally, and the small
acorns are long and tapered. Trees usually have rounded clumps of ball
moss or thick drapings of Spanish moss [19,21].
  • 19. Haller, John M. 1992. Quercus virginiana: The southern live oak. Arbor Age. 12(5): 30. [17984]
  • 20. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S., White, F. M. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 510 p. [18070]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]

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Description

Trees, sometimes shrubs , subevergreen, trees to 35 m, shrubs sometimes rhizomatous. Bark dark brown or black, scaly. Twigs yellowish to light gray, 1-3 mm diam., minutely puberulent or stellate-pubescent, glabrate in 2d year. Buds reddish or dark brown, subglobose or ovate, 1-2 mm; scale margins glabrous or puberulent. Leaves: petiole 1-10(-20) mm. Leaf blade obovate to oblanceolate, sometimes orbiculate or lance-ovate, ± planar, (10-)35-90(-150) × (15-)20-40(-85) mm, base cuneate to rounded, rarely truncate or cordate, margins minutely revolute or flat, entire or irregularly 1-3-toothed on each side, teeth mucronate, secondary veins obscure, 6-9(-12) on each side, apex obtuse-rounded or acute; surfaces abaxially whitish or glaucous, densely covered with minute, appressed, fused-stellate hairs, light green and glabrate in shade leaves, adaxially dark or light green, glossy, glabrous or with minute, scattered, stellate hairs. Acorns 1-3, on peduncle (3-)10-20 mm; cup hemispheric or deeply goblet-shaped, 8-15 mm deep × 8-15 mm wide, base often constricted; scales whitish or grayish, proximally thickened, keeled, tomentulose, tips reddish, acute-attenuate, glabrous or puberulent; nut dark brown, barrel-shaped, ovoid, or obcylindric, 15-20(-25) × 8-15 mm, apex rounded or blunt, glabrous. Cotyledons connate.
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Size

Live oak is fast-growing under optimal conditions. Seedlings may reach 1.2 m (4 feet) in height within the first year, but growth rates taper off as age of the tree increases (Harlow et al 1979; Haller 1992). 70 year old trees may have trunks that measure as much as 54 inches in diameter (Van Dersal 1938).
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Quercus virginiana Miller var. eximea Sargent
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Look Alikes

NoneDescription: Quercus virginiana is variable in its morphology depending on its location in the coastal strand. Those closest to scrub areas tend to be low-growing shrubs, while those further upland grow as large, spreading, long-lived trees which dominate the canopy. Trees growing in the open reach 15 m (approximately 50 feet) in height, with trunks of approximately 200 cm (79 inches). Crowns of these trees may reach a span of 46 m (150 feet) or more (Harlow et al. 1979; Harms 1990). Bark is longitudinally furrowed. Acorns are small and tapered in shape. Live oak limbs have a growth habit of first sweeping close to the ground, and later growing upward.Live oak hybridizes with dwarf live oak, swamp live oak, and other species (Little 1979). Live oak remains foliated nearly year-round, dropping its leaves and regenerating new growth within a few weeks during spring.No consensus has been agreed upon regarding the taxonomic status of Q. virginiana. Some researchers recognize 3 separate species, while others recognize varieties rather than distinct species (Vines 1960; Little 1979; Harms 1990).
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: cover, hardwood, mesic, xeric

Southern live oak grows in moist to dry sites. It withstands occasional floods,
but not constant saturation [47]. It is resistant to salt spray and
high soil salinity. Southern live oak grows best in well-drained sandy soils and
loams but also grows in clay and alluvial soils [21]. It grows up to
328 feet (100 m) in elevation [11]. The native range of southern live oak
coincides approximately with the southeastern maritime sand strands
[35], as well as with the 41.9 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 deg C) isotherm
for the average minimum daily temperature of the coldest month [26].

Although generally considered a mesophytic species, southern live oak is common
on xeric, mesic, and hydric hammocks in the southeastern United States.
(A hammock is a dense, hardwood forest that occurs in pinelands and in
limited, elevated areas amidst wet prairies and marshes.) Although southern live oak
is absent from the wetter areas in hydric hammocks [47], it occurs
in some hammocks where its roots are covered by salt water during high
tide [45]. Southern live oak also occurs in flatwood sites and on the outer
terraces of floodplains [53].

In addition to overstory associates mentioned in SAF cover types, common
associates of southern live oak include southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora),
water oak (Quercus nigra), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), red bay
(Persia bobonia), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and saw palmetto
(Serenoa repens). On less well-drained sites, southern live oak is associated
with sugarberry (Celtis laevigata), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica),
and American elm (Ulmus americana) [21]. Woody species found with southern
live oak in mottes include American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana),
yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), and greenbrier (Smilax spp.) [42]. Netleaf
hackberry (Celtis reticulata) and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) grow
with southern live oak in riparian areas in Texas [53].
  • 11. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]
  • 26. Johnson, Ann F.; Barbour, Michael G. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J., eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Press: 430-480. [17394]
  • 35. Oosting, Henry J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20: 226-262. [10730]
  • 42. Springer, Marlin D. 1977. The effects of prescribed burning on browse, forbs and mast in a Texas live oak savannah. Proc. Annual Conference of Southwestern Assoc. of Fish & Wildlife. 31: 188-189. [10058]
  • 45. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
  • 47. Vince, Susan W.; Humphrey, Stephen R.; Simons, Robert W. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: A community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. 82 p. [17976]
  • 53. Wood, Carl E.; Wood, Judith K. 1989. Riparian forests of the Leona and Sabinal Rivers. Texas Journal of Science. 41(4): 395-412. [11869]

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Key Plant Community Associations

Southern live oak is a common dominant in maritime forests and on hammocks
bordering coastal and inland marshes.

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES31 Shinnery
FRES32 Texas savanna

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

66 Ashe juniper - redberry juniper
67 Mohrs oak
68 Mesquite
69 Sand pine
71 Longleaf - scrub oak
73 Southern redcedar
74 Cabbage palmetto
84 Slash pine
89 Live oak
111 South Florida slash pine

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K060 Mesquite savanna
K061 Mesquite - acacia savanna
K062 Mesquite - live oak savanna
K071 Shinnery
K085 Mesquite - buffalograss
K086 Juniper - oak savanna
K090 Live oak - sea oats
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K115 Sand pine scrub

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Soils and Topography

Live oak nearly always grows on sandy soils belonging to the  Ultisols, Spodosols, Histosols, and Entosols (5). Its resistance  to salt spray and high levels of soil salinity makes it a  dominant species in the live oak woodland on the barrier islands  of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In South Carolina it is found in  dry sandy woods, moist rich woods, and wet woods. It is present  in nearly every habitat in Florida from sandhills to hammocks,  where it is generally the dominant species. In Louisiana, live  oak is the dominant species on well-drained ridges bordering  coastal marshes (3).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

The climate is humid. Annual precipitation varies from 810 mm (32  in) in Texas to 1650 mm (65 in) along the Gulf Coast to 1270 mm  (50 in) along the Atlantic coast and Florida. During the growing  season, March through September, rainfall averages from 460 mm  (18 in) in the west to 660 to 760 mm (26 to 30 in) in the east  and south, with summer droughts more common in the western part  of the range than elsewhere. The average summer temperature is 27°  C (80° F). The average winter temperature ranges from 2°  C (35° F) in the east and west to 16° C (60° F) in  the south. The frost-free period is 240 days in the east and west  and more than 300 days in southern Florida (5).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Coastal plain, open evergreen woodlands, scrublands, and hummocks on loam, clay, and rarely on sand on immediate coast; 0-200m.
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Dispersal

Establishment

Live oak is monoecious. Germination is hypogeal and occurs shortly after seedfall if the site is moist and warm. Live oak is fast growing if well watered and soil conditions are good. Seedlings grow 4 feet in the first year. Under ideal conditions, a live oak can attain a dbh. of 54 inches in less that 70 years. Live oak sprouts from the collar and roots, and forms dense clones up to 66 feet in diameter.

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Trophic Strategy

Autotrophic.Competitors: Live oak is the dominant plant climax species in coastal forests in the northern portion of its range (Helm et al. 1991). It withstands competition due to its extreme salt tolerance and tolerance to shade.Habitats: Live oak grows well in moist to dry sites in scrub and maritime hammocks of the southeastern United States. It also shows good growth in clay and alluvial soils (Harms 1990).
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Associations

Associated Forest Cover

Live oak makes up the majority of the stocking of the forest cover  type Live Oak (Society of American Foresters Type 89) (1). Common  associates are water oak (Quercus nigra), laurel oak (Q.  laurifolia), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora),  and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). On less  welldrained sites it is accompanied by sugarberry (Celtis  laevigata), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and  American elm (Ulmus americana). On the Atlantic Coast and  Florida, common associates also include southern bayberry (Myrica  cerifera), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), tree sparkleberry  (Vaccinium arboreum), cabbage palmetto (Sabal  palmetto), and saw-palmetto (Serenoa repens). American  holly (Ilex opaca), flowering dogwood (Cornus  florida), southern crab apple (Malus angustifolia), hawthorn  (Crataegus spp.), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), Carolina  jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), and Japanese  honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) are also common  associates.

    Live oak is a minor species in seven other forest cover types:  Longleaf-Scrub Oak (Type 71), Southern Redcedar (Type 73),  Cabbage Palmetto (Type 74), Slash Pine (Type 84), South Florida  Slash Pine (Type 111), Ashe Juniper-Redberry Juniper (Type 66),  and Mohrs Oak (Type 67).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Live oak provides cover and shade for a wide variety of coastal species of birds and mammals. Acorns of live oak are an important food source for the Florida scrub jay, mallards, sapsuckers, wild turkey, black bear, squirrels and white-tail deer. Scrub jays, a threatened species, nest in live oak (Woolfenden 1973).Epiphytes of live oak include mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.), ball moss and Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides). Spanish moss can be especially populous in live oak (Haller 1992).
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Ant Nests

The ant Temnothorax obturator has been found nesting in galls of live oaks in Texas.

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Young live oak is highly susceptible to  fire. Its thin bark is readily killed by even light ground fires,  leaving the trunk open to insects and fungi. The species is also  susceptible to damage by freezing temperatures.

    Live oak decline, a wilt disease attributed to Ceratocystis  fagacearum, has been reported in Texas where it is killing  thousands of trees annually. The disease is also suspected to  occur in other Southern States as well and is considered a  potentially serious problem (2,3). Leaf blister, caused by Taphrina  caerulescens, periodically results in considerable  defoliation.

    A borer, Archodontes melanopus, commonly attacks roots of  young oaks on the Atlantic Coast and may prevent the trees from  developing normal form.

    In some localities, mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.) grows  on the branches. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), though  an epiphyte, may damage trees because it accumulates in great  abundance and decreases light reaching the interior and lower  parts of the crown (6).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Population Biology

Live oak is generally abundant throughout its range, and is often the dominant species in maritime hammocks. In the Indian River Lagoon, it is highly abundant on scrub lands, maritime hammocks, and upland forests. It is somewhat more abundant in areas of the lagoon north of Cape Canaveral.Locomotion: Sessile.
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

Prescribed surface fires are used to maintain southern live oak savanna by
killing juniper and improving grass and forage quality. If fires are
frequent, however, large southern live oak mottes will eventually be eliminated
[28,42,51].

Lack of fire in oak savannas in Texas results in increased, dense,
thickets of southern live oak. Fire cannot be used to restore savannas because
fire results in increased stem densities. Frequent fires keep oak under
control, but do not eradicate it [43].

In Florida, fires during a dry, growing season may reduce southern live oak-saw
palmetto hammock fringe habitat and restore prairie [24].
  • 24. Huffman, Jean M.; Blanchard, S. W. 1991. Changes in woody vegetation in Florida dry prairie and wetlands during a period of fire exclusion, and after dry-growing-season fire. In: Nodvin, Stephen C.; Waldrop, Thomas A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives: Proceedings of an international symposium; 1990 March 20-24; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-69. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 75-83. [16636]
  • 28. Kiel, Bill. 1980. Range burning and wildlife habitat. In: Hanselka, C. Wayne, ed. Prescribed range burning in the coastal prairie and eastern Rio Grande Plains of Texas: Proceedings of a symposium; 1980 October 16; Kingsville, TX. College Station, TX: The Texas A&M University System, Texas Agricultural Extension Service: 72-76. [11452]
  • 42. Springer, Marlin D. 1977. The effects of prescribed burning on browse, forbs and mast in a Texas live oak savannah. Proc. Annual Conference of Southwestern Assoc. of Fish & Wildlife. 31: 188-189. [10058]
  • 43. Springer, Marlin D.; Fulbright, Timothy E.; Beasom, Samuel L. 1987. Long-term response of live oak thickets to prescribed burning. Texas Journal of Science. 39(1): 89-95. [2208]
  • 51. White, Larry D. 1980. Prescribed burning on the Edwards Plateau. In: White, Larry D., ed. Prescribed range burning in the Edwards Plateau of Texas: Proceedings of a symposium; 1980 October 23; Junction, TX. College Station, TX: The Texas A&M University System, Texas Agricultural Extension Service: 1-3. [11439]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, prescribed fire, root collar

If top-killed, young southern live oaks sprout from the root collar and from
roots. Most sprout growth occurs in the first postfire year [1,2].

Southern live oak stem densities increased after a prescribed fire of scrubby
southern live oak plots in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas
Coastal Plain. Acorn production was reduced in the first postfire year,
but increased to preburn levels in the second year. Top-killed southern live oak
is capable of flowering and producing acorns on sprouts in the first
postfire year. Mottes containing large southern live oaks did not burn [42].

The same plots in the Aransas National Wildlife refuge were burned every
2 years for 10 years. After 10 years, acorn production was reduced
compared to unburned plots, but the density of southern live oak stems remained
higher than preburn levels. Height growth was kept at a minimum by the
biennial fires. Large mottes were more susceptible to burning with each
subsequent fire [42].
  • 1. Abrahamson, Warren G. 1984. Species response to fire on the Florida Lake Wales Ridge. American Journal of Botany. 71(1): 35-43. [9608]
  • 2. Abrahamson, Warren G. 1984. Post-fire recovery of Florida Lake Wales Ridge vegetation. American Journal of Botany. 71(1): 9-21. [9509]
  • 42. Springer, Marlin D. 1977. The effects of prescribed burning on browse, forbs and mast in a Texas live oak savannah. Proc. Annual Conference of Southwestern Assoc. of Fish & Wildlife. 31: 188-189. [10058]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: root crown, surface fire

Fire top-kills southern live oak. Dominant southern live oaks can survive low-severity
fire that does not crown. Dominant southern live oaks larger than 3 inches (8
cm) in d.b.h. survived a fire on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Smaller
trees were top-killed [10].

The root crown and roots of young top-killed southern live oaks survive most
fires. A dry season hot fire in Florida killed and top-killed many southern live
oak that had invaded a prairie from a nearby hammock. Southern live oaks greater
than 12 inches (30 cm) in d.b.h. did not recover by sprouting, but
smaller oaks did. Dominant southern live oaks in the established hammock areas
were not killed [24].

The average surface fire is hot enough to destroy all acorns on the
ground [16].
  • 10. Davison, Kathryn L.; Bratton, Susan P. 1988. Vegetation response and regrowth after fire on Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia. Castanea. 53(1): 47-65. [4483]
  • 16. Garren, Kenneth H. 1943. Effects of fire on vegetation of the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 9: 617-654. [9517]
  • 24. Huffman, Jean M.; Blanchard, S. W. 1991. Changes in woody vegetation in Florida dry prairie and wetlands during a period of fire exclusion, and after dry-growing-season fire. In: Nodvin, Stephen C.; Waldrop, Thomas A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives: Proceedings of an international symposium; 1990 March 20-24; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-69. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 75-83. [16636]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire tolerant, litter

Southern live oak has thin bark and is readily top-killed by fire. This species
has two primary means of surviving fire: (1) Root crowns and roots
survive fire and sprout vigorously, and (2) southern live oak forests discourage
entry of fire from adjacent communities (see below) [10,33].

The large, spreading oak canopy encloses a humid microclimate. The
leaves are concave and, as litter, hold moisture to the ground. The
moist environment discourages fire entry and keeps fire temperatures low
[13]. In East Texas, southern live oak is considered fire tolerant as long as
humidities are above 45 percent [4].

There is generally a space between the understory and canopy which
prevents fire from crowning. Saw palmetto will carry fire into a southern live
oak stand, but it burns close to the ground [10]. The dense southern live oak
canopy inhibits growth of understory vegetation (e.g. grass) and litter
is sparse [47,52].

Southern live oak litter burns at lower temperatures than the litter of turkey
oak (Quercus laevis), post oak, or longleaf pine [52,25]. During an
experimental fire, temperatures were measured from the base of southern live oaks
to the adjacent grassland. The maximum temperatures on the litter
surface decreased from 412 degrees Fahrenheit (211 deg C) in the
grasslands to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 deg C), on average, at the base
of the southern live oaks [25].
  • 10. Davison, Kathryn L.; Bratton, Susan P. 1988. Vegetation response and regrowth after fire on Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia. Castanea. 53(1): 47-65. [4483]
  • 13. Fonteyn, Paul J.; Stone, M. Wade; Yancy, Malinda A.; Baccus, John T. 1984. Interspecific and intraspecific microhabitat temperature variations during a fire. American Midland Naturalist. 112(2): 246-250. [7457]
  • 25. Hutcheson, Ann-Marie; Baccus, John T.; McClean, Terry M.; Fonteyn, Paul J. 1989. Response of herbaceous vegetation to prescribed burning in the Hill Country of Texas. Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 3: 42-47. [17777]
  • 33. Myers, Ronald L. 1990. Scrub and high pine. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J., eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Press: 150-193. [17389]
  • 4. Armstrong, W. E. 1980. Impact of prescribed burning on wildlife. In: White, Larry D., ed. Prescribed range burning in the Edwards Plateau of Texas: Proceedings of a symposium; 1980 October 23; Junction, TX. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System: 22-26. [11430]
  • 47. Vince, Susan W.; Humphrey, Stephen R.; Simons, Robert W. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: A community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. 82 p. [17976]
  • 52. Williamson, G. Bruce; Black, Edwin M. 1981. High temperature of forest fires under pines as a selective advantage over oaks. Nature. 293: 643-644. [9917]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, competition, fire suppression, mesic, presence, xeric

Southern live oak is intermediate in shade tolerance. Once established, it
withstands competition. Southern live oak is extremely salt tolerant, and this
resistance may account for its dominance in many climax coastal forests
in the northern part of its range [22]. Southern live oak may also be a climatic
climax on Carolina coasts [26].

The exclusion of fire has increased the presence of southern live oak in the
Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. In the absence of fire, southern live oak
expands from hammocks into dry, coastal prairies in Florida and
Louisiana. The expanding vegetation is dominated by southern live oak and saw
palmetto, which are characteristic of hammock fringe vegetation [16,24]

In the absence of fire, southern magnolia and southern live oak form a climatic
climax on former longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas [8]. Slash
pine (P. elliottii)-oak vegetation is also replaced by southern live oak [16].
In Texas, fire suppression and overgrazing have created a southern live oak-juniper
disclimax in place of mixed prairie [39].

Twenty-five years after abandonment, southern live oak seedlings appear in fallow
agricultural fields on floodplains that once supported southern live oak. A
southern live oak forest matures 50 years after seedling establishment [12].

In the absence of fire, xeric hammocks dominated by southern live oak, may
develop into mesic hammocks, but changes are slow [46].
  • 12. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
  • 16. Garren, Kenneth H. 1943. Effects of fire on vegetation of the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 9: 617-654. [9517]
  • 22. Helm, A. C.; Nicholas, N. S.; Zedaker, S. M.; Young, S. T. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175. [15686]
  • 24. Huffman, Jean M.; Blanchard, S. W. 1991. Changes in woody vegetation in Florida dry prairie and wetlands during a period of fire exclusion, and after dry-growing-season fire. In: Nodvin, Stephen C.; Waldrop, Thomas A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives: Proceedings of an international symposium; 1990 March 20-24; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-69. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 75-83. [16636]
  • 26. Johnson, Ann F.; Barbour, Michael G. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J., eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Press: 430-480. [17394]
  • 39. Rollins, Dale; Bryant, Fred C. 1986. Floral changes following mechanical brush removal in central Texas. Journal of Range Management. 39(3): 237-240. [10415]
  • 46. Veno, Patricia Ann. 1976. Successional relationships of five Florida plant communities. Ecology. 57: 498-508. [9659]
  • 8. Daubenmire, Rexford. 1990. The Magnolia grandiflora-Quercus virginiana forest of Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 123: 331-347. [10871]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: hypogeal, root collar

Southern live oak is monecious. Acorns are produced annually and often in great
abundance [21]. Acorns can be produced on root sprouts only 1 foot (0.3
m) high [45]. Dissemination is by gravity and, to a lesser extent,
animals [21].

Germination is hypogeal and occurs shortly after seedfall if the site is
moist and warm. Few acorns overwinter since they are eaten by weevils
and animals [21]. Southern live oak is fast growing if well-watered and soil
conditions are good. Seedlings can grow 4 feet (1.2 m) in the first
year, but this rate tapers off as size increases [19,45]. Under ideal
conditions, a southern live oak can attain a d.b.h. of 54 inches (137 cm) in less
than 70 years [20].

Southern live oak sprouts from the root collar and roots, and forms dense clones
up to 66 feet (20 m) in diameter [8].
  • 19. Haller, John M. 1992. Quercus virginiana: The southern live oak. Arbor Age. 12(5): 30. [17984]
  • 20. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S., White, F. M. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 510 p. [18070]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]
  • 45. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
  • 8. Daubenmire, Rexford. 1990. The Magnolia grandiflora-Quercus virginiana forest of Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 123: 331-347. [10871]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Post-fire Regeneration

survivor species; on-site surviving root crown

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Life Form

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Tree, Shrub

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Reaction to Competition

Live oak may be most accurately  classed as intermediate in tolerance to shade. In the northern  part of its range, live oak assumes dominance only near the  coast, where it is freed from competition by the greater  sensitivity of all other broad-leaf trees to salt spray. The  exclusion of fire has increased its presence in the Lower Coastal  Plain. Once established in a favorable habitat, the tree is very  tenacious and withstands all competition.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

There is no published information on  rooting habits, but the ability of live oak to grow and mature on  sites subject to hurricane-force winds suggests that it is a  deep-rooted species.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Small flowers are produced in the spring when new leaves are grown.
Pollen is wind dispersed during the first 2 weeks in April. Acorns
mature the following September and fall before December [19,21].
  • 19. Haller, John M. 1992. Quercus virginiana: The southern live oak. Arbor Age. 12(5): 30. [17984]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]

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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering late winter-early spring.
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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Live oak sprouts abundantly from  the root collar and roots. When tops are killed or when the tree  is girdled, roots near the ground surface send up numerous  sprouts. The capacity to sprout makes live oak difficult to kill  by mechanical or chemical means.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Seedling Development

The acorns germinate soon after  falling to the ground if the site is moist and warm. Germination  is hypogeal. Probably few acorns remain viable over winter  because weevils invade them, and they are eaten by many animals  and birds. There is no published information on seedling growth  and development.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Seed Production and Dissemination

Acorn crops are  produced annually, often in great abundance. There is no  published information on minimum seed-bearing age or size of the  acorn crop. Number of sound acorns averages 776/kg (352/lb).  Dissemination is by gravity and animals.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Flowering and Fruiting

Live oak is monoecious. Flowers  are produced every spring, March through May. The acorns, long  and tapered and dark brown to black, mature in September of the  first year and fall before December.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Q. virginiana is monoecious. Small flowers are produced in spring during the growth period for new leaves. Pollen is dispersed by winds, generally during early April. Acorns are produced in abundance the following September (Harms 1990). Acorns generally fall to the ground during December, and are dispersed by animals.Live oak sprouts from root collars and from roots. Dense clonal colonies sometimes result from this mode of reproduction, and have been observed up to 20 m (66 feet) in diameter.
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Live oak never attains great height, but  the crown may have a span of 46 in (150 ft) or more. Open-grown  specimens may have trunks 200 cm (79 in) in d.b.h. and average 15  in (50 ft) in height. Since the species is of little commercial  importance except as an ornamental, growth and yield information  has never been developed.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Germination occurs shortly after seedfall in warm, moist soils.
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Branches survive intense wind: live oak
 

Live oaks survive strong winds because of high wood strength and a low canopy that branches out in multiple subdivisions without a main axis.

   
  "The resistance of live oak has been related to the low deliquescent canopy and high wood strength and resilience (Touliatos & Roth 1971). The crowns of the larger live oaks were level with or below crowns of associated laurel and water oaks." (Gresham 1991:425)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Gresham, C. A.; Williams, T. M.; Lipscomb, D. J. 1991. Hurricane Hugo Wind Damage to Southeastern US Coastal Forest Tree Species. Biotropica. 23(4): 420-426.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Two varieties of live oak are recognized: Quercus uirginiana  var. fusiformis (Small) Sarg., Texas live oak, and  Q. virginiana var. geminata (Small) Sarg., sand  live oak.

    Live oak hybridizes with Quercus bicolor (Q. x nessiana Palmer);  Q. durandii; Q. lyrata (Q. x comptoniae Sarg.); Q.  macrocarpa; Q. minima; and Q. stellata (Q. x harbisonii  Sarg.).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

Some of the pests that causes live oak decline is wilt disease, leaf blister, heartwood decay, gall wasps, and borers, which attacks roots of young live oak. Live oak is extremely susceptible to freezing temperatures and acid rain.

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: forb

Dense stands of southern live oak reduce forage production for livestock. Southern live
oak is extremely hard to kill because it sprouts vigorously from the
root collar and roots [20]. However, the soil-applied herbicide,
tebuthiuron, effectively controls southern live oak. In a study in Texas,
herbicide treatment of southern live oak increased grass yields in the first
posttreatment growing season and increased forb yields in 3 to 4 years
posttreatment [15].

On the Edwards Plateau in Texas, southern live oak was reduced by 75 percent
after mechanical brush control, using the double chain method. The oaks
sprouted, but white-tailed deer browsing kept sprouts at ground level
for the first posttreatment year [39].

Southern live oak decline, a wilt disease caused by Ceratocystis fagacearum, is a
serious threat to Texas live oak (Q. fusiformis) and possibly southern live oak varieties in
other states as well [21]. Fungicides are not effective because the
fungus colonizes deep in the sapwood. Southern live oak firewood should not be
transported into wilt-free areas because the fungus survives in dead
wood for up to 1 year [30].

Leaf blister, caused by Taphrina caerulescens, defoliates trees.
Heartwood decay (Polyporus dryophylus) is prevalent in southern live oak, but the
sapwood is so strong that infected trees usually remain standing [21].
Southern live oak is a favorite of gall wasps, but the galls do not appear to
affect the health of the trees [19].

Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.), ball moss, and Spanish moss (Tillandsia
usneoides) live in southern live oak. Spanish moss accumulates in such
abundance, that it can shade out the lower parts on the crown and
interfere with photosynthesis. Spanish moss can be controlled by
spraying [19].

A borer, Archodontes melanopus, attacks roots of young southern live oak [19].

Southern live oak is extremely susceptible to damage by freezing temperatures,
but it withstands hurricanes [21].
  • 15. Fulbright, Timothy E.; Garza, Andres, Jr. 1991. Forage yield and white-tailed deer diets following live oak control. Journal of Range Management. 44(5): 451-455. [16318]
  • 19. Haller, John M. 1992. Quercus virginiana: The southern live oak. Arbor Age. 12(5): 30. [17984]
  • 20. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S., White, F. M. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 510 p. [18070]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]
  • 30. Lewis, R., Jr. 1987. Ceratocystis fagacearum in living and dead Texas live oaks. Res. Note SO-335. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [4967]
  • 39. Rollins, Dale; Bryant, Fred C. 1986. Floral changes following mechanical brush removal in central Texas. Journal of Range Management. 39(3): 237-240. [10415]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Materials are readily available through nurseries within its range. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Once established, live oak withstands competition. It is extremely salt tolerant and this resistance may account for its dominance in many climax coastal forests in the northern part of its range. Dense stands of live oak reduce forage production for livestock. Live oak is extremely hard to kill because it sprouts vigorously from the root collar and roots.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Other uses and values

Southern live oak is used for shade and as an ornamental [21]. Southern live oak is
considered "one of the noblest trees in the world and virtually an
emblem of the Old South" [19].

In the past, southern live oak was used for ship building [21]. Native Americans
produced an oil comparable to olive oil from southern live oak acorns [20]. It
is believed that Native Americans used southern live oaks as trail markers by
staking saplings down, causing them to grow at extreme angles [19].
  • 19. Haller, John M. 1992. Quercus virginiana: The southern live oak. Arbor Age. 12(5): 30. [17984]
  • 20. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S., White, F. M. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 510 p. [18070]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Southern live oak is used to revegetate coal mine spoils in Texas. Southern live oak
inoculated with either endo- or ectomycorrhizae have better growth and
development on these lignite overburden sites [9].

Southern live oak is used for reforestation of the southernmost portions of the
lower Mississippi Valley, which were originally cleared for agriculture
[3].
  • 3. Allen, James A.; Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1989. Bottomland hardwood reforestation in the lower Mississippi Valley. Slidell, LA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Research Center; Stoneville, MS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experimental Station. 28 p. [15293]
  • 9. Davies, Fred T.; Call, Christopher A. 1990. Mycorrhizae, survival and growth of selected woody plant species in lignite overburden in Texas. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 31(3): 243-252. [17586]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Southern live oak provides cover for birds and mammals. The threatened Florida
scrub jay nests in southern live oak [54]. In southern Texas, southern live oak provides
nest sites for many species, including the hooded oriole, ferruginous
pygmy-owl, red-billed pigeon, northern beardless tyrannulet, and Couch's
kingbird. The tropical parula requires the rounded clumps of ball moss
(Tillandsia recurvata) found in southern live oak for nest construction [14].
  • 14. Fulbright, Timothy E.; Diamond, David D.; Rappole, John; Norwine, Jim. 1990. The coastal Sand Plain of southern Texas. Rangelands. 12(6): 337-340. [14110]
  • 54. Woolfenden, Glen E. 1973. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12: 25-49. [16723]

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Nutritional Value

Southern live oak browse is low in digestible energy [6]. Actively growing
sprouts are nutritious, with 13 to 17 percent crude protein [39].

The palatability, digestibility, and seasonal abundance of acorns make
them an important food source. Southern live oak acorns are low in protein, but
high in fat and fiber. The following table gives nutritional data in
dry weight percent for southern live oak acorns [38,40]:

Location protein fat N-free fiber calcium phosphorus
extract

TX 5.61 1.84 44.00 16.52 0.86 0.16
TX 5.48 8.29 77.73 2.28
MS 5.22 8.59 67.95 16.71 0.18 0.08
AR 5.80 6.10 71.70 14.60 0.13 0.09
  • 38. Reid, Vincent H.; Goodrum, Phil D. 1957. The effect of hardwood removal on wildlife. In: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 141-147. [10477]
  • 39. Rollins, Dale; Bryant, Fred C. 1986. Floral changes following mechanical brush removal in central Texas. Journal of Range Management. 39(3): 237-240. [10415]
  • 40. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]
  • 6. Bryant, F. C.; Kothmann, M. M.; Merrill, L. B. 1980. Nutritive content of sheep, goat, and white-tailed deer diets on excellent condition rangeland in Texas. Journal of Range Management. 33(6): 410-414. [18140]

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Palatability

Southern live oak acorns are a sweet and desirable food [21,20], but their
palatability diminishes after germination [40]. New root sprouts are
also palatable [39].
  • 20. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S., White, F. M. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 510 p. [18070]
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]
  • 39. Rollins, Dale; Bryant, Fred C. 1986. Floral changes following mechanical brush removal in central Texas. Journal of Range Management. 39(3): 237-240. [10415]
  • 40. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Southern live oak acorns are an important food source for many birds and mammals,
including northern bobwhite, Florida scrub jay, mallard, sapsuckers,
wild turkey, black bear, squirrels, and white-tailed deer. Because of
fall germination, the acorns are not available for very long [40]. Southern live
oaks in Texas coastal prairies provide shade for wildlife and livestock
[43].
  • 40. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]
  • 43. Springer, Marlin D.; Fulbright, Timothy E.; Beasom, Samuel L. 1987. Long-term response of live oak thickets to prescribed burning. Texas Journal of Science. 39(1): 89-95. [2208]

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Wood Products Value

Southern live oak wood is heavy and strong but is little used commercially [21].
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]

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Special Uses

Because of live oak's habit of forming a low, widespreading crown,  it is widely used as a shade tree and an ornamental. Its acorns  are sweet and much sought as food by birds and animals. During  the era of wooden ships it was used extensively in shipbuilding  because of its hardness and strength.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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W. R. Harms

Source: Silvics of North America

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Benefit in IRL: Live oak is beneficial as habitat and for providing shade to many birds and small mammals. It is especially important to the Florida scrub jay as nesting habitat.
  • Haller, J.M 1992. Quercus virginiana: the southern live oak. Arbor Age 12(5):30
  • Harlow, W.M., E.S. Harrar, and F.M. White. 1979. Textbook of dendrology. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, NY. 510 pp.
  • Harms, W.R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, R.M., and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. pp. 751-754.
  • Helm, A.C., N.S. Nicholas, S.M. Zedaker, S.T. Young. 1991. Maritime forests on Bull Island, Cape Romain, South Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 118(2): 170-175.
  • Johnson, A. F. and M. G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL. pp. 430-480
  • Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of the United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
  • Oosting, H.J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20:226-262.
  • Simpson, B.J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, TX. 372 pp.
  • Van Dersal, W.R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 362 pp.
  • Vince, S.W., S.R. Humphrey, R.W. Simons. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: a community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.
  • Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees, shrubs and woody vines of the southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1104 pp.
  • Woolfenden, R.P. 1982. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12:25-49.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Uses

Erosion Control: This is an excellent species for reforestation to prevent erosion on originally cleared land for agriculture. It also has the potential for revegetating coalmine spoils.

Wildlife: The live oak acorns are important food source for many birds and mammals including northern bobwhite, Florida scrub jay, mallard, sapsuckers, wild turkey, black bear, squirrels, and white-tailed deer. This species provides cover for birds and mammals. The rounded clumps of ball moss that are found in live oak are necessary for nest construction.

Timber: The live oak wood is heavy and strong but of little use commercially.

Recreation and Beautification: Live oak is used for shade and as an ornamental. It is considered “one of the noblest trees in the world and virtually an emblem of the Old South”. Today live oaks are protected for public enjoyment.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana, also known as the southern live oak, is a normally evergreen oak tree native to the southeastern United States. Though many other species are loosely called live oak, the southern live oak is particularly iconic of the Old South.[3]

Taxonomy[edit]

A large number of common names are used for this tree, including "Virginia live oak", "bay live oak", "scrub live oak", "plateau oak", "plateau live oak", "escarpment live oak", and (in Spanish) "encino". It is also often just called "live oak" within its native area, but the full name "southern live oak" helps to distinguish it from other live oaks, a general term for any evergreen species of oak.[4]

This profusion of common names partly reflects an ongoing controversy about the classification of various live oaks, in particular its near relatives among the white oaks (Quercus subgenus Quercus, section Quercus). Some authors recognize as distinct species the forms others consider to be varieties of Quercus virginiana. Notably, the following two taxa, treated as species in the Flora of North America, are treated as varieties of southern live oak by the United States Forest Service: the Texas live oak, Quercus fusiformis (Q. virginiana var. fusiformis) and the sand live oak, Quercus geminata (Q. virginiana var. geminata).

Matters are further complicated by southern live oaks hybridizing with both the above two species, and also with dwarf live oak (Q. minima), swamp white oak (Q. bicolor), Durand oak (Q. durandii), overcup oak (Q. lyrata), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), and post oak (Q. stellata).

Range[edit]

Typical southern live oaks are endemic from southeast Virginia to Florida, including the Florida Keys,[5] and west to southeast Texas. Texas live oaks grow primarily in Texas, on the Edwards Plateau and the Rio Grande Plain, but can be found as far west as Terrell County, Texas, in southwestern Oklahoma and northeastern Mexico. Sand live oaks grow from North Carolina to Florida in the east and Mississippi in the west.

Description[edit]

Leaves and acorns of a southern live oak

Although typically evergreen, the leaves persisting until the time growth resumes in spring, a live oak's defoliation may occur sooner in marginal climates or in dry or cold winters.[6]

The bark is dark, thick, and furrowed longitudinally. The leaves are stiff and leathery, with the tops shiny dark green and the bottoms pale gray and very tightly tomentose, simple and typically flattish with bony-opaque margins, with a length of .75 - 6 inches (2 – 15 cm) and a width of .4 - 2 inches (1 – 5 cm), borne alternately. The male flowers are green hanging catkins with lengths of 3 - 4 inches (7.5 –10 cm). The acorns are small, .4 - 1 inch (1 - 2.5 cm), oblong in shape (ovoid or oblong-ellipsoid), shiny and tan-brown to nearly black, often black at the tips, and borne singly or in clusters.[5][6]

The avenue of live oaks at Boone Hall in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, planted in 1743.
A specimen at the former Protestant Children's Home in Mobile, Alabama. It has a trunk circumference of 23 feet (7.0 m), height of 63 feet (19 m) and limb spread of 141 feet (43 m).

Depending on the growing conditions, live oaks vary from a shrub-size to large and spreading tree-size: typical open-grown trees reach 20 meters (60 feet) in height, with a limb spread of nearly 27 meters (80 feet).[7] Their lower limbs often sweep down towards the ground before curving up again. They can grow at severe angles, and Native Americans used to bend saplings over so that they would grow at extreme angles, to serve as trail markers.

The branches frequently support other plant species such as rounded clumps of ball moss, thick drapings of Spanish moss, resurrection fern, and parasitic mistletoe.

The southern live oak has a deep tap-root that anchors it when young and eventually develops into an extensive and widespread root system. This, along with its low center of gravity and other factors, makes the southern live oak extremely resistant to strong sustained winds, such as those seen in hurricanes.[8]

The southern live oak grows in a wide variety of sites but has low fire-resistance and occurs most any place free from fire that is not too wet.[6][9] They tend to survive fire, because often a fire will not reach their crowns. Even if a tree is burned, its crowns and roots usually survive the fire and sprout vigorously. Furthermore, live oak forests discourage entry of fire from adjacent communities because they provide dense cover that discourages the growth of a flammable understory.[citation needed] They can withstand occasional floods and hurricanes, and are resistant to salt spray and moderate soil salinity. Although they grow best in well-drained sandy soils and loams, they will also grow in clay.[10] Live oaks are also surprisingly hardy. Those of southern provenance can easily be grown in USDA zone 7 and the Texas live oak (Quercus virginiana var. fusiformis), having the same evergreen foliage as the southern variety, can be grown with success in areas as cold as zone 6. Even with significant winter leaf burn, these trees can make a strong comeback during the growing season in more northerly areas, such New Jersey, southern Ohio, and southern Connecticut.

Uses[edit]

The avenue of live oaks at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, planted in the early 18th century.

Primary uses for southern live oaks are providing food and shelter for wildlife. Among the animals for which live oak acorns are an important food source are the bobwhite quail, the threatened Florida scrub jay, the wood duck, yellow-bellied sapsucker, wild turkey, black bear, various species of squirrel, and the white-tailed deer. The tree crown is very dense, making it valuable for shade, and the species provides nest sites for many mammal species.

The live oak is the larval host plant for the hairstreak butterfly and oakworm moth.[10]

Live oak wood is hard, heavy, and difficult to work with, but very strong. In the days of wooden ships, live oaks were the preferred source of the framework timbers of the ship, using the natural trunk and branch angles for their strength. The frame of USS Constitution was constructed from southern live oak wood harvested from St. Simons Island, Georgia, and the density of the wood grain allowed it to survive cannonade, thus earning it the nickname "Old Ironsides". Even today, the U.S. Navy continues to own extensive live oak tracts.[11]

Native Americans extracted a cooking oil from the acorns, used all parts of live oak for medicinal purposes, leaves for making rugs, and bark for dyes.[10][12]

Cultivation[edit]

Southern live oak is cultivated for shade and as an ornamental. Care is relatively easy, as it requires very little watering while it is young. After it is four to five feet tall, watering can be forgotten, and no more care is required. It is long-lived; trees in excess of 500 years were once common.

Famous specimens[edit]

The Angel Oak on Johns Island, South Carolina. The man standing under the tree is 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall.
The Emancipation Oak in Hampton, Virginia.
  • The Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak tree.
  • The Angel Oak on Johns Island, South Carolina, near Charleston is estimated to be in excess of 700-years-old. It has a trunk circumference of 28 feet (8.5 m), height of 66 feet 6 inches (20.27 m) and limb spread of 187 feet (57 m).[13]The Largest tree east of the Mississippi.

See also[edit]

Live Oak Society

References[edit]

  1. ^  Q. virginiana was first described and published in the Gardeners Dictionary, Edition 8. London. Quercus no. 16. 1768. "Plant Name Details for Quercus virginiana". IPNI. Retrieved July 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Quercus virginiana Mill.-- The Plant List (2010). Version 1. Published on the Internet". www.theplantlist.org/. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Bender, Steve, ed. (January 2004). "Quercus virginiana". The Southern Living Garden Book (2nd ed.). Birmingham, Alabama: Oxmoor House. ISBN 0-376-03910-8. 
  4. ^ "Quercus virginiana in Flora of North America @ efloras.org". www.efloras.org. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  5. ^ a b Nelson, Gil (1994), The Trees of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide, Sarasota, Florida, USA: Pineapple Press, p. 84, ISBN 1-56164-055-7 
  6. ^ a b c Kurz, Herman; Godfrey, Robert K. (1962), Trees of Northern Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA: University Press of Florida, pp. 103–104, ISBN 978-0-8130-0666-6 
  7. ^ "Quercus virginiana: Southern Live Oak". University of Florida IFAS Extension. University of Florida. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Selecting Tropical and Subtropical Tree Species For Wind Resistance". University of Florida IFAS Extension. University of Florida. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak". Natural Resources Conservation Service. US Department of Agriculture. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c [1] "The USA National Phenology Network — Quercus virginiana", Retrieved 2011-07-06
  11. ^ "Landowner Fact Sheets - live oak". www.cnr.vt.edu. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  12. ^ [2] "Some Reflections on the South Florida of Long Ago", Retrieved 2011-07-06
  13. ^ "History of the Angel Oak". 
  14. ^ Sledge, John S. (1982). Cities of Silence. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press. pp. 15, 19. ISBN 0-8173-1140-8. 
  15. ^ Pruitt, Paul M.; Higgins, Robert Bond (1963). "Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Mobile: The Long Story of Charles R. S. Boyington". Gulf Coast Historical Review 11 (Spring 1996): 6–40. 
  16. ^ [3] "Fun 4 Gator Kids — Cellon Live Oak", Retrieved 2011-07-06
  17. ^ [4] "Cellon Oak Park", Retrieved 2011-07-06
  18. ^ File:AlachuaCountyLogo.jpg "Alachua County Logo", Retrieved 2011-07-06
  19. ^ Borland, Timothy (July 22, 2011). "Treehugger 4: Duffie Live Oak". Mobile Bay Magazine. PMT Publishing. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  20. ^ Evangeline Oak Louisiana Historical Marker
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Notes

Comments

Quercus virginiana is one of the commonest and best known species in the coastal region of the southeastern United States. In the past, it was widely used for structural pieces in the manufacture of wooden ships, and large groves were actually considered a strategic resource by the federal government. Historically oil pressed from the acorns was utilized. Like other members of the live oak group ( Q . minima , Q . geminata , and Q . fusiformis ), Q . virginiana seedlings form swollen hypocotyls that may develop into large, starchy, underground tubers. In the past, the tubers were gathered, sliced, and fried like potatoes for human consumption. The tendency for the tree members of this group to produce rhizomatous growth and clonal shrubs in juvenile stages, and in response to damage, fire, and poor soil conditions, has led to considerable confusion in delimiting the species. This is exacerbated by considerable plasticity in leaf form. When evaluating specimens an effort should be made to sample broadly within a population. The tuberous condition mentioned above suggests that live oaks have different phases in their life history that may persist depending on the environmental conditions. This is not uncommon in other woody plants that occur in seasonally dry, fire-prone habitats of the southeastern United States. 

 The Houma used Quercus virginiana medicinally for healing dysentery (D. E. Moerman 1986).

Putative hybrids between Quercus virginiana and Q . minima are known, but care should be taken to avoid assigning hybrid status to clonal phases of Q . virginiana solely on the basis of habit. Hybrids with Q . fusiformis and Q . geminata are discussed under those species. Occasional putative hybrids with Q . stellata are also found, and those tend to be semi-evergreen with shallowly lobed leaves.

Some named putative hybrids are: Q . × burnetensis Little (= Q . macrocarpa × Q . virginiana ); Q . × comptonae Sargent (= Q . lyrata × Q . virginiana ); and the artificially produced hybrid, Q . × nessiana E. J. Palmer (= Q . bicolor × Q . virginiana ).

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Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

southern live oak
Virginia live oak
scrub live oak

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More info for the term: swamp

The currently accepted scientific name of southern live oak is Quercus virginiana
Mill. [21,31].

Southern live oak hybridizes with dwarf live oak (Q. minima), swamp white oak (Q. bicolor),
Durand oak (Q. durandi), overcup oak (Q. lyrata), bur oak (Q.
macrocarpa), and post oak (Q. stellata) [31].
  • 21. Harms, W. R. 1990. Quercus virginiana Mill. live oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2 Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 751-754. [18139]
  • 31. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]

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