Quercus virginiana

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Live Oak


Plant Specifics

Size:40-80 ft tall by 40-100 ft wide
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:NA
Fruit Color:NA
Phenology:Evergreen. Inconspicuous blooms in spring; wind pollinated. Acorns ripening the same year in fall. Life span 300+ years.
Noted for:Interesting foliage, Hurricane wind resistance


Recommended Uses:Large specimen tree or shade tree.
Considerations:Massive low hanging branches often droop to touch the ground--make sure you allow plenty of room for this tree. Can be somewhat messy especially if loaded with Spanish moss.
Propagation:Seed, but readily available as a potted or large tree-spaded plant.
Availability:Big box stores, Native nurseries, FNPS plant sales, Quality nurseries
Light: Full Sun,  Part Shade,  Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods)
Moisture Tolerance: Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Tolerant of occasional/brief inundation such as can occur in storm surges.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Moderate. Tolerant of salty wind and may get some salt spray. Exposure to salt spray would be uncommon (major storms).
Soil or other substrate:Loam, Sand
Soil pH:Adaptable



Acorns provide a good food source for many types of birds and mammals.

Good nesting habitat for birds and squirrels.  The acorns are low in tannins.

Hummingbirds are attracted to and eat live oak pollen


Larval host plant for Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius), red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) and white-M hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) butterflies;.

Possible larval host for Juvenal's duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis) and oak hairstreak (Fixsenia favonius) butterflies.

Native Habitats:Tropical rockland hammock, pine rockland in fire-suppressed areas and near tropical rockland hammock, upper edges of floodplains, margins of ponds and lakes, levees and second bottoms, secondary woods, roadsides, mesic to dry mesic hammock.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 10B 11 8A 8B 9A 9B 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


General Comments:

This species is broadly planted. It is one of the few native trees that is widely available. Noted for its twisty form, tolerance of root damage, and longevity.

The form of this tree varies enormously with light conditions.  Open grown trees are sometimes shaped like inverted bowls and there is much horizontal growth.  Shade grown trees tend to grow straight toward the best light source and can either be tall and straight, or if the light is nor directly above, be very twisty.

Noted for being a good epiphyte host. Throughout much of its range its branches are hosts to many epiphytic plants, especially bromeliads (such as ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata and Spanish moss, T. usneoides), ferns (such as resurrection fern, Pleopeltis polypodioides  and orchids including butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis).