Landscape Significance

The small acorns are very dark when ripe, and are primary food for many wildlife species along the coast.

It will do well as a lawn specimen provided it is given plenty of space.

This photo was taken of a 200+ year-old live oak on Fort Sumter Drive, James Island, SC.

The live oak is probably best known for its massive horizontal limbs that give old trees their majestic character. The leaves remain intact through the winter, then yellow and drop in spring as new leaves expand. The green waxy leaves are resistant to salt spray.

One of the longest-lived oaks, it may live 200 to 300 years, growing 40 to 80 feet tall and 60 to 100 feet wide. The trunk can grow to more than six feet in diameter. It tolerates cold extremes up through the Piedmont (not the mountains), but will grow more slowly and may suffer from ice storm damage. Once established, it is drought-resistant.

Live oak is susceptible to leaf blister but it does no appreciable harm.

Identifying characteristics

Simple green leaves are spirally arranged, and are elliptic to ovate-shaped. The underside of the leaf is whitish-grey. Bark is gray to reddish brown, scaly, and vertically furrowed. Slim yellow-green cylindrical stalks of blossoms appear in spring. Fruits are acorns to 1 inch long, sometimes in pairs, with a shallow cup enclosing the bottom quarter.

More information about the live oak is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Informaton Center: Clemson HGIC - Live Oak