Live oak (Quercus virginiana) is also known as southern live oak. The tree develops one of the widest crowns of all the species of oak trees, provides a large amount of shade and is the state tree of Georgia. Live oak needs a good deal of room and is for large properties with great expanses of green space. The tree is long lived--often surviving for 100 years or more.
The tree reaches a height of 40 to 60 feet and a spread of 60 to 100 as it develops multiple curved trunks and curved branches. The tree produces oval-shaped, green leaves 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. Brown flowers bloom in the spring growing in hanging clusters 2 to 3 inches long and are followed by brown, sweet, edible, oval-shaped fruits. The leaves remain on the tree until the next spring.
The tree is hardy in USDA zones 8 though 11. The native habitat is the Southeast coastal plain extending from Virginia around the southern coast to Texas. The tree is also found in Cuba and some parts of Mexico.
The tree does well in an urban environment, standing up to air pollution and poor drainage. Live oak likes full sun or partial shade and a well-drained soil.
Live oak is used as a shade tree and an individual specimen tree. The fruit is used as a food source for birds, squirrels and small mammals. The wood is used for fireplace logs and charcoal
Fruit, twigs and leaves do make a mess that needs to be cleaned up. The branches droop down as the tree matures and will have to be pruned or it will be hard to walk or drive under the tree. Roots grow close to the surface and can get under the sidewalk or driveway and cause damage. The roots also make it difficult to mow the lawn. Mites do minimal damage to the leaves. Scales, aphids and boring insects are also a problem. Oak wilt is a fatal disease. The tree is also susceptible to canker and powdery mildew.