Southern live oak trees are an iconic symbol of strength throughout the southeastern section of the United States. Their widespread canopies stretch broader than any other species of oak tree. They provide excellent shade for outdoor activities, and their durability stands the test of time for tree houses, tire, and rope swings. Their density is more substantial than other hardwood trees making them the ultimate sturdy timber for building heavyweight projects. People all over the world love live oak trees for their versatility of uses. However, I bet you didn’t know these five things about live oak trees!
1. Live oak trees are evergreens.
The Southern live oak tree derives its name from the fact that it remains “alive” during the winter months. Its leaves stay green and intact, differentiating it from most other oak tree varieties which lose their leaves in the autumn and winter, becoming dormant.
2. Most of the wood in a southern live oak tree is resides in its branches.
Most trees harvested for timber, such as pine and other various conifer trees, bear it in their tall trunks. The southern live oak is shorter in height and can boast a crown up to or over four times the size in volume than that of its base. One of the most massive live oaks dwells in New Orleans, Louisiana. The girth of its trunk at its breast height is 35’2”, while its crown measures at 165′!
3. Live oaks don’t grow in the northern tier of the United States.
Although you might be able to coax a live oak to grow in a hardiness zone not too far north of Zone 7, live oak trees thrive in fertile, coastal soil as well as along banks and rivers. They symbolize all that is good and rich and prosperous in the Old South, marking their territory with their distinctive appearance.
4.Southern live oak roots grow laterally.
Unlike many other trees, the southern live oak tree root system extends out to provide a stable anchor system for the massive trees as they grow. One of the largest species of oak tree east of the Mississippi River, the live oak tree roots can spread up to 90 feet from the trunk, and extend up to a third of the distance from the edge of its crown. Dry areas where live oaks grow may see smaller “sinker” roots grow vertically down from the lateral roots, but the bulk of the root system is lateral and close to the surface.
5. Paving the ground over the roots of a live oak can kill it.
Besides the photosynthetic process of its leaves, the roots of a southern live oak work to collect oxygen as well as nutrients and water from the soil around it. If you pave closer than 15 feet from the trunk of a live oak, the oxygen supply will be significantly inhibited, causing the tree to die slowly. You can pave with loose materials up to six feet from the trunk, but any closer and you harm the tree.