Majestic Southern Live Oaks, 5 pics

Live Oak Tree Composition 1 Detail

 

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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Hammock’s Beach State Park

Bear Island is a short ferry ride from the launch at Hammock’s Beach State Park in Swansboro, North Carolina.   It’s also part of the Boque Banks, just south of the better known Outer Banks.  The ferry approaches the mainland side of the island through a vast estuarial marsh. A 3/4 mile trek to the seaward side of the island takes you through dense scrubs and tall dunes.  Along the way I came across a beautiful windswept live oak tree.  A cold front brought large dramatic, thick cloud formations.  With all the beauty and drama already in place, a group of passing pelicans added a nice touch to an already spectacular image.

Bear Island Live Oak Landscape
Bear Island Live Oak Landscape

Northeast of the park, the historic White Oak River empties into the Atlantic.  Visiting the area last weekend with my Scout Troop, we camped at Cedar Point Campgrounds near wetlands at the mouth of the river.  I captured the image below the in the marshes just behind our camp area.  The trees offered an interesting shape with contrasting limbs and trunks against a dense backdrop of pine, undergrowth and grasses.  Careful processing of the tone curve created a nice extended range of tones.  Larger versions of the images can been seen on my portfolio site by selecting the image.

Cedar Point Marshscape 1
Cedar Point Marshscape 1