live oak
Quercus virginiana Mill.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: southern live oak
  • LEAVES: tardily deciduous, overwintering and falling just before or as new leaves of the season emerge; alternate, simple, blades thick and leathery, variable in size and shape, generally 2-5" long x 0.5-2.0" wide, margins entire or sparsely toothed, flat to revolute
  • FLOWER: unisexual, plants monoecious, male flowers in green catkins
  • FRUIT: acorn, ellipsoidal, to 1” long; dark brown; cap turbinate, deep, enclosing 1/3 of acorn
  • TWIGS: twigs of the season tan to gray, glabrous or pubescent
  • BARK: gray to black, thick and deeply furrowed, blocky on older trees
  • FORM: Scrubby (can be rhizomatous) to large tree, depending on site; crowns of open-grown trees spreading; fast growing, most live oaks on the LSU campus were planted in the 1930s. Most live oaks, which only live to ca. 400 years old, are not as old as they look.
  • HABITAT: in Louisiana, on natural levees (loamy, well-drained), cheniers (sandy ridges), shell mounds; elsewhere on sand dunes and sandy inland areas; maritime hammocks; perhaps a component of longleaf pine savannahs near the coast on mesic sites; live oak often persists following cultivation and may spread in areas outside its natural range
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: Texas to Florida and the Carolinas; northeastern Mexico [USGS Range Map]  [County Range Map]
  • USES: historically used for structural pieces in the manufacture of wooden ships; currently of limited use, cabinets, furniture, interior trim, flooring, barrels, veneer; hypocotyls (seedling stems) can become swollen and develop into starchy tubers and utilized similarly to potatoes; popular ornamental!
  • WILDLIFE: fruit eaten by squirrels
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. broad, round crown in open areas (when expressing as a tree on good sites)
    2. leaves thick, leathery, often with a few irregular coarse teeth
    3. deep, turbinate acorn cap and ellipsoidal acorn that is dark brown at maturity