Quercus virginiana
Common Name: live oak
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Fagaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States, Mexico
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 40.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 60.00 to 100.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. May not be grown in the St. Louis area. In areas where it is winter hardy, it is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Quercus virginiana, commonly called live oak, is a large, long-lived, evergreen oak that typically grows 40-80’ tall with a short trunk, low branching and a broad-spreading rounded crown. It is native to coastal plains and woods from Virginia to southern Florida and Texas. This is a majestic tree whose massive spreading limbs and branches are often seen draped with Spanish moss in many parts of its range. Live oaks were planted along many old southern plantation roads and over time have become a symbol of the South. Insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear in spring. Fruits are ellipsoidal acorns (to 1” long), with scaly cups that extend to approximately 1/3 the acorn length. Acorns are valued food for a variety of wildlife. Elliptic to obovate, leathery, shiny dark green leaves (to 5” long) have smooth edges. Leaves are evergreen. Wood makes excellent fuel because of its high density. Live oak acorns mature in one season.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees.

Specific epithet means of Virginia.

Problems

In its native range, live oak is generally considered to be a long-lived, low-maintenance tree. Root rot may attack coastal trees. Oak wilt is a serious problem in some areas. Insect galls may damage foliage appearance.

Garden Uses

A shade tree for large lawns or parks.