Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Live Oak
Quercus virginiana

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Quercus (KWER-kus) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

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over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 34 photos.
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21 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Opus27no2 On Dec 26, 2014, Opus27no2 from Slaughter, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I feel so privileged to live amongst some of the grandest specimens of this amazing and awe-inspiring threes. Gorgeous habit. Revered among shade trees. The perfect frame to any home.

Positive OK580 On Jul 4, 2013, OK580 from Ada, OK wrote:

I have 2 of these on my property in southeast Oklahoma, and both grow very well. Although, working in landscaping I have seen several LARGE (50ft+) live oaks around Pontotoc county. That being said, we aren't a traditional zone 7.. Temps below 20*f here are extremely rare, but can happen.

Neutral CPRanger On Dec 27, 2012, CPRanger from Bay Saint Louis, MS wrote:

I live in Bay St Louis, MS. Before Hurricane Katrina I had 12 neighbors on my street. Now almost 8 years later I am the only one that built back. Where the homes once were are now open fields and Live oak trees. I have cut and cared for the properties since the storm. I have hundreds of small oaks growing, all over and would like some information on the best method of replanting, potting and care of the saplings. When is the best time to transplant? What size pots are required? How long can they stay in pots? Thanks -Cedar Point Ranger

Positive spaceman_spiff On Oct 31, 2012, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a question. Does anyone know much about the reproduction of the Live Oak? I have one in my front yard which is approximately 50 years old and is quite large (it covers the entire front yard, parts of the neighbors' yards on each side, part of my house, and goes half-way across the street). I've lived in this home for 13 & 1/2 years and it has NEVER produced a single acorn before. But it produces ENORMOUS amounts of blooms in the spring and the pollen (and, afterward, the tassels) is/are spewed everywhere for 2-3 weeks. (Very messy, but I always considered it the lesser of two evils, and was always thankful it never produced acorns, which are far messier for a much longer period). For these reasons, I always assumed Live Oaks were dioecious--having male and female trees--and that mine was a male. However, this year, for the first time ever, it is producing acorns! I just did some research online and it turns out these trees are monoecious--male & female parts on the same tree. Does anyone have any idea why my tree is suddenly producing acorns this year when it never has before? Again, this is a GIANT tree, so it's not like it wasn't old enough before. I've seen lots of much smaller Live Oaks that produced acorns.
Thanks very much.

Positive tennesseestorm On Jul 25, 2010, tennesseestorm from Bristol, TN wrote:

I am in northeast Tennessee (Bristol) at 1450 ft. elevation - right on the 7a / 6b growing zone line. I planted two Live Oaks from seedlings and they have been thriving for 5 years now. Some of the leaves do brown on them when we have a harsh and unusual cold snap and one has even completely defoliated a couple of different winters (was scared, thought it had perished), but it came back and always comes back with new leaves in the early spring! :) I have even put Spanish Moss on them in the past, but the birds carry it off every year! ;)

Positive uglysteve On Oct 25, 2009, uglysteve from Apache Junction, AZ wrote:

I planted 2 of these trees. They don't mind the desert heat , 110+F, and the alkali soil. They are still small, but are growing, and healthy.

Positive dghornock On May 8, 2009, dghornock from bear (glasgow), DE (Zone 7b) wrote:

We own three Southern Live oaks. Two are at our seasonal address 7 miles SE of Dover, DE and one is growing at our current adddress in SE PA 15WNW of Lancaster PA; 75 miles WNW of Philadelphia and 75 miles NNE of Baltimore. The tree in PA was growing as a almost perenial for many years and is now about 7 ft. tall with abot a 6 ft. spread and is finally for the most part evergreen in milder winters. These tress require heavy mulching to survive on this side of Washington DC. The two trees in Delaware are about 15 to 30 foot tall.

Positive stevennewnan On Nov 5, 2008, stevennewnan from Palmetto, GA wrote:

I love our state tree. I grows in Atlanta, Newnan, Palmetto, and all points south. When the tornado hit Atlanta this spring, a Live Oak was the only tree still standing at Oakland Cemetery in the tornado's direct path. There were monuments made of solid granite knocked down and broken, but this tree was still standing with some minor damage.

Positive akolsrud On Sep 14, 2008, akolsrud from Cedar Park, TX wrote:

This almost-evergreen tree is very drought resistant. pruning is needed if a tall and stright tree is preferred. There is a huge amount of yellow pollen in late spring time that may cause allergic reaction for people. The nuts can be put directly in the soil (wet soil in the beginning) and they start growing after some time. This tree requires very little water during the very hot Texas summers.

Positive Opoetree On Jun 8, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

We have many live oak trees here in Oak View, California. However, I am not aware of the correct name for the type we have. I live in the Ojai Valley -- does anyone know the name of the live oaks that grow here? There are also other varieties of oaks in Ojai...they are not the 'live' type and have different leaf formations. My oaks have long, hanging blooms and rather small acorns. The leaves have rather sharp points. There are hundreds/thousands of them in my area...over one hundred on my property alone. They overhang our streets and barrancas as well.

Positive escambiaguy On Nov 25, 2006, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Although they are overplanted in some communities, live oak is a good tree to plant in hurricane prone areas. Even in 100mph winds, they suffer little damage. The only downside is that they are evergreen. If you like plenty of sunshine during the winter, this may not be the tree for you.

Positive epic1 On May 13, 2006, epic1 from Windermere, FL wrote:

Oldest species is in South Carolina-1400 years old. Angel Island Oak. Awesome to see!

Positive Suze_ On Jan 17, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

I just love Live Oaks. They are my favorite tree for the South, so stately, and well, Southern looking.

I have two fairly mature and well-limbed up/well-tended ones in my front yard next to the street (and in front of the circular drive) as a sort of 'matched' set on either side of the walkway up to my house. Based on the size of them, they are likely close to 40 years old.

Positive bed24 On Jan 17, 2006, bed24 from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I recently came upon a live oak growing (and still green in mid January!) in Central Park in New York City. It's just above 72nd street not far from the Bethesda Terrace. At first I thought it might be a laurel oak so I took a leaf home with me for a better ID. Sure enough it was Quercus virginiana, although it wasn't stately like those growing down south but was still a great find. I'm curious what the hardiness rating for Central Park really is considering that it's in the middle of a giant heat island. Records show that NYC's record all-time low temperature is only 4F so in terms of average annual minimum temperatures it might really be a zone 7b/8a microclimate.

Positive juliotamu On Nov 9, 2005, juliotamu from Oxford, MS (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought seedlings from the Texas Forest Service (Quercus virginiana) about 4 years ago and planted them in Oxford, MS. This is zone 7a where it has been known to go down below zero (but not in the last 3 years). The tree zone guide on this site says zone 8a is the lowest.

I have 10 trees, the largest about 4 ft tall and they all seem to be doing good. I havent seen any live oaks in Oxford except at Home Depot where they recently started selling them but saw them growing in Memphis TN (65 miles north) and at least one in Tupelo MS (50 miles west) so I thought it might not be too cold here.

I would be interested to see if anyone else has had sucess in zone 7a. The trees I've seen in Texas and southern MS and LA are definitely worth planting.

Positive Kameha On May 2, 2005, Kameha from Kissimmee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The live oak should really be called the "subtropical oak". Its native range also includes the bahamas and cuba...where it is called encino. Nothing beats the majestic beauty of a grandfather live oak tree.

Positive mnorell On Mar 29, 2005, mnorell from Natchez, MS (Zone 9a) wrote:

One of the evergreen glories of the landscape in the southern U.S. Here in Natchez, Mississippi, they grace virtually all of the stately antebellum mansions and many other properties, providing an immense and awesome canopy, host to many epiphytes such as Tillandsia usneoides, Polypodium polypodioides, and others. Their natural range is from Virginia down to Key West and westward along the gulf-coast area to eastern Mexico. Remember that these trees can alter the microclimate of your area by a half-zone, so they are very desirable for winter protection of tender or semi-tender plants in marginal areas. Moderately fast-growing while young, then they slow down a bit, eventually becoming quite spreading, so before planting, make sure there's room for future expansion!

Positive TREEHUGR On Dec 5, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

It's better than nothing and it's better than an exotic but to say it's overplanted in my region of the state would be an understatement. I have two in my yard. I don't find them all that interesting. I think the old trees are nice looking obviously but these trees offer very little shade and on a more selfish note, they hurt if you brush up against them and the prickley branches scratch the cars if you drive near them. I used to think it would take about 150 years to get them to arch over roadways but it only takes about 30 if planted close enough to the street. These are very resiliant here and I would say that they transplant with a good success rate. Certainly not one of the more creative tree planting ideas but the wildlife doesn't seem to mind.

Positive nick89 On Sep 19, 2004, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I bought a 6-foot specimen a year ago and it has done well growing at a fairly good rate (for oaks). It has a foot of new gorwth and is putting out its last flush before winter. The trees themselves can spread to immense propartions. They are not native to my region but two or three large evergreen oaks in the area are what I believe to be live oaks.

Positive dragonshade On Apr 25, 2004, dragonshade from Douglasville, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Currently trying this wonderful (and personal favorite) of all oaks in Douglasville Georgia (zone 7B). I was looking for a tree on a hill I have that would give immense spread, but not more than 70 feet in height. I found a lovely container grown specimen, about 8 feet tall on 04/03/04. So far it has been in the ground about 3 weeks, and has already nearly leafed out fully, (had just dropped when I bought it), and also has added over 1" of new growth on all branches. Any members please feel free to contact me about this Live Oak, or any info you may have on yours.

Positive raserrab On Apr 20, 2004, raserrab from Keller, TX wrote:

For our Spanish speaking friends: Este árbol se denomina en español "encino" y es muy común en el sur de los Estados Unidos y el norte de México. Es un árbol nativo de esta región. Verde todo el año.

Positive suncatcheracres On Feb 5, 2004, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I have several dozen huge and old specimens of Live Oak growing on my six acre property in the Suwannee River Valley of North Central Florida, zone 8b. This area has the largest stands of these trees left in Florida, and my property is situated on a limestone "ridge" just within the edge of a 10 mile long "Oak Hammock," which is a special eco-system very favorable for these trees' growth.

Live Oaks, contrary to common opinion, are not slow growers. They are often confused with Sand Live Oaks (Quercus geminata) which is a slow growing, smaller oak. Young trees, when not rootbound for years in a pot before planting, and given lots of water after planting, will grow with amazing rapidity to a large size within 10 to 15 years, so anyone living in their growing range, needing shade, should consider planting this, the "King of Trees."

The survival of my Live Oaks is not due to any generosity on the part of the early settlers. "Old Town" is the name given to this area by the Native American population, and until General Jackson fought his southernmost battle here in about 1818, I believe, in the Seminole Wars, there was a large Native American village here of ancient duration. After the native population was driven out, the area was quickly settled by Scotch-Irish-English immigrants who ran cattle, tapped turpentine, and eventually cut down the vast tracts of cypress. But the already huge live oaks were too curved and too difficult to hand-saw to be of any commercial use. The last use of these trees was for building wooden battle ships, and I have read that "Old Ironsides," the US Constitution, was built from over 2,000 Live Oak trees cut in South Carolina. The wood was so hard and so dense that cannon balls couldn't penetrate it. But by the time there was equipment powerful enough to cut down these trees, there was no longer any demand for them, as ship buiding had moved on to steel, so these wonderful giants were spared and still live on to grace our lives today.

I have seen the oldest Live Oak in Florida, in Highland Hammocks State Park, near Sebring, Florida. It is over 1,000 years old and has parts of its decaying trunk filled with some type of cement-like mortar, and some of its branches are propped up with scaffolding, but it still lives on, amazing visitors with its ancient beauty.

Neutral Floridian On Sep 25, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Live oak is a shrubby to large and spreading, long-lived, nearly evergreen tree. It drops its leaves and grows new leaves within several weeks in the spring. Mature trees average 50 feet in height. The rounded crowns may span 150 feet or more. Lower limbs sweep to the ground and then curve upward. Trees usually have rounded clumps of ball
moss or thick drapings of spanish moss. Live oak grows in moist to dry sites. It withstands occasional floods,
but not constant saturation. It is resistant to salt spray and high soil salinity. Live oak grows best in well-drained sandy soils and loams but also grows in clay and alluvial soils.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuxtla Gutiérrez, (2 reports)
Atmore, Alabama
Irvington, Alabama
New Market, Alabama
Apache Junction, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Oak View, California
San Diego, California
Dover, Delaware
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Labelle, Florida
Lake City, Florida
Naples, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Orange Park, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Ruskin, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Venice, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Douglasville, Georgia
Fort Valley, Georgia
Newnan, Georgia
Palmetto, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Prospect, Kentucky
Alexandria, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Carencro, Louisiana
Gramercy, Louisiana
La Place, Louisiana
Lutcher, Louisiana
Metairie, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana (3 reports)
Slaughter, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Brookeville, Maryland
Preston, Maryland
Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi
Columbus, Mississippi (2 reports)
Florence, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Oakland, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi
Saucier, Mississippi
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Las Vegas, Nevada
New York City, New York
Bayboro, North Carolina
Boone, North Carolina
Ada, Oklahoma
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Beaufort, South Carolina (2 reports)
Belton, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina (2 reports)
Conway, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Leesville, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina (2 reports)
Liberty Hill, South Carolina
Little Mountain, South Carolina
Lugoff, South Carolina
Lydia, South Carolina
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Pelion, South Carolina
Ridgeland, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Bristol, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Arlington, Texas (2 reports)
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Baytown, Texas
Brownsville, Texas (2 reports)
Cedar Park, Texas (2 reports)
Converse, Texas
Devine, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Fredericksburg, Texas
Friendswood, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Garland, Texas
Houston, Texas
Hunt, Texas
Kendalia, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Kyle, Texas
Livingston, Texas
Manvel, Texas
San Angelo, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Universal City, Texas
Petersburg, Virginia
Suffolk, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia

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