Majestic Southern Live Oaks, 5 pics

 

Live Oak Tree Composition 1
Live Oak Tree Composition 1

The southern live oak, quercus virginiana, is a large majestic oak tree species native to the southeastern United States coastline.  While some other species are loosely referred to as live oaks, the southern live oak is an iconic part of the Old South.  The term “live” refers to the tree’s evergreen characteristic – its leaves remain nearly year-round.  Over a period of days, leaves fall off in the spring as new leaves begin to emerge.

Live Oak Tree Composition 3
Live Oak Tree Composition 3

The tree is anchored by a deep tap-root which develops into an extensive root system.  Lower branches will reach out to the ground and then turn upward.  These features, along with a low center of gravity, allow southern live oak to withstand strong sustained costal winds – hurricanes.  Several live oaks have been certified to be over 1000 years old!

Live Oak Tree Composition 2
Live Oak Tree Composition 2

It prefers well drained sandy soils below 300ft above sea level. Their broad, dense canopy discourages flammable undergrowth.  As such, the tree can usually withstand fires because the flames are unlikely to reach the crown.  If burned, the crown and roots respond with vigorous growth.

Live Oak Tree Composition 1 Detail
Live Oak Tree Composition 1 Detail

Though not suitable for planking, the live oak’s hard, strong and curved wood was a preferred source of sailing ship framework timbers.  The frame of the famous USS Constitution was constructed from southern live oak harvested from the state of Georgia.  The density of wood grain helped the ship survive cannon fire during The War of 1812, earning it the nickname “Old Ironsides”.

Live Oak and Young Bucks
Live Oak and Young Bucks

Today, the southern live oak provides shelter and food to local wildlife.  I captured this series, including the white tail bucks above foraging for live oak acorns, on the Intracostal Waterway near Holden Beach, North Carolina.

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9 thoughts on “Majestic Southern Live Oaks, 5 pics

  1. The black and whites are especially beautiful, and it’s nice to read about this tree, which I’ve loved for years but haven’t seen in a long time. There was on particular tree on an island of GA that fascinated me – it had two adjacent trunks joined by a common branch. The trunks and that branch were all huge, craggy-barked and gracefully curved.

    Liked by 1 person

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