Live oak and laurel oak are similar in the general shape of the trees and are hardy in much of the same area. The size of your property is the main thing to take into consideration when deciding between the two. Pick the best one for your space. Both trees will provide years of pleasure and food for the local wildlife.
Laurel oak tree (Quercus laurifolia) is a member of the red oak group that grows from 40 to 60 feet tall and the same in width with a round crown. Live oak (Quercus virginiana) is also known as Southern live oak and is the state tree of Georgia. The mature tree features a round, symmetrical and spreading crown. The tree grows from 60 to 80 feet tall and 60 to 120 feet wide.
Laurel oak features a trunk 3 to 4 feet in diameter. Yellow-green flowers bloom in March and April, with the male and female flowers growing in separate clusters. The female flowers give way to acorns measuring up to 1 inch long that remain on the tree for two years. Oblong leaves that are dark green on the top and pale green on the underside measure 2 to 4 inches long. The leaves of the live oak measure 4 to 8 inches long. It has brown flowers that bloom in the spring, and its acorns grow to 1/2 inch long. The trunk measures up to 79 inches in diameter.
Laurel oak is found growing in the low woods, edges of the swamps and banks of the rivers and streams of the coastal plains of the Southeast. The tree is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9 and likes full sun and a soil that is rich, well-drained and moist to wet.
Live oak is hardy in zones 7b through 10b. Plant it in full sun, partial shade or full shade and a soil that is moist to wet and well-drained. The tree is native to maritime regions and scrub lands from Virgina on south through the Florida Keys and as far west as eastern Texas.
The acorns provide food for animals. Use the laurel oak as a shade tree on a large property. Live oak works as a shade tree, specimen tree or sidewalk tree and, like the laurel oak, needs plenty of room to grow.
Oak trees suffer from oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. They can also be infested with scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils. Laurel oak and live oak are considered to be relatively disease and insect resistant.
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