Southern live oak

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Southern live oak Quercus virginiana


An evergreen oak (Quercus virginiana) native to the southeastern area of the U.S. from Virginia to Florida and along to Gulf coast to Texas. The naval live oak has a coarse, reddish brown bark and can grow to be 50 feet tall. It was commonly used for shipbuilidng because of its tolerance for salt water and its resistance to decay. Naval live oak trees were used to build the USS Constitution sailing ship, nicknamed Old Ironsides, in the 1790s.

Synonyms and Related Terms

live oak; Naval white oak; naval oak; Quercus virginiana; Virginia live oak; bay live oak; encino (Esp.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Tree may reach heights of 30 m with a crown spread over 50 m
  • Bark=red-brown furrows with blocky scales
  • Leaves=evergreen with shiny upper surface, elliptical
  • Fruit=small acorns with warty cap maturing in early fall
  • Density = 75 pcf

Resources and Citations

  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (accessed Oct. 8, 2005)

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