Quercus Virginiana, The Live Oak Tree of the South

Quercus virginiana, also known as the live oak has always been a southern favorite. Quecus virginiana makes a picturesque scene and is often seen flanking entry roads of old plantations in the Deep South. It is not a tree for small properties. Find facts and information on growing live oaks.

"Quercus Virginiana"

The Stately Live Oak Tree

Quercus Virginiana Facts and Information

The live oak is a type of oak tree that has willowlike leaves and is a massive, long lived tree that grows 50-80’ tall. It develops huge, wide-spreading horizontal branches and drops its shiny foliage only in spring, before new growth begins.

The live oak is at the top of the Northern range in Zone 7 and is most impressive in Louisiana and southward. Its warm-weather counterpart in the hills and valleys of coastal California is the 50-70’ native oak, Q. Agrifolia, which is hardy in Zones 8-9.

Live oaks are often seen draped with shaggy Spanish moss. You may find old specimens with trunks more than 6’ in diameter and widespread shallow roots. The vast, rounded crown has lower branches that dip to the ground, twisting up at the ends.

"Live Oak Tree"

Quercus virginiana lining roadway

Quercus virginiana, like most oaks, have deep anchoring tap roots that stabilize the tree, which symbolizes strength, long life, and steadfastness in many cultures. They are ideal shade trees for large lawns and naturalized spaces. Most varieties are also fairly drought tolerant.

Oaks, in general, prefer full sun to partial shade. They are tough and persistent, but may be troubled by powdery mildew, canker, leaf spot. Leaf scorch, rust, root rot, twig blights, and anthracnose. Live oaks susceptible to oak wilt, but mainly in the Midwest and Texas. To prevent this fatal disease, which progresses from crumpling foliage to wilted brown-edged leaves into the inner tree, prune only when formant or in mid-to late summer.

Quercus virginiana varieties will grow in moist compacted clay soils and is a good coastal tree because of its tolerance to salt. They seem to be evergreen, but they are not, as they do drop their leaves in spring unlike evergreens that retain their leaves.

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