oak is found from southeastern Virginia through the lower Coastal
Plain of North Carolina and southward, but it is plentiful only
south of Cape Hatteras. It is a tree with a wide-spreading crown
and gnarled branches which are often covered with Spanish moss,
making it one of the most characteristic trees of the coastal
region. Live oak, as the name implies, is evergreen and also is
Live oak leaves are quite small (2 to 5 inches long), oval with
rounded ends and have margins that are mostly smooth but may be
The dark brown to nearly black acorn is 3/4 to 1 inch long and
usually attached on long stalks in clusters of three to five.
The cup, which is scaly, encloses about a third of the fruit,
tapering rapidly to the stem.
The bark on the trunk and large branches is dark brown tinged
with red and is slightly furrowed.
The tree seldom grows to more than 50 feet in height, but it may
have a crown span of 100 feet or more. Open-grown trees may have
trunk diameters of 6 to 7 feet.
Live oak wood is extremely difficult to saw and dry. It was once
prized for blocks and ribs on sailing ships, and it is now one
of the most desirable trees for roadside and ornamental planting
along the coast. Live oak acorns are a dependable and highly desirable
food for a wide variety of wildlife.