Skip navigation

Weed Identification

live oak



Scientific Name

Quercus virginiana

Other Common Names:

southeastern live oak
Virginia live oak
southern live oak


Leaves thickened, shiny on the upper surface, the lower surface pale with short hairs but green and without hair in shade-grown leaves. Leaves 1.4-3.5 in (35-90 mm) long, 0.8-1.5 in (20-38 mm) wide, usually rounded to oblong, without teeth, but some summer growth and growth on juvenile trees often with toothed leaves (Nelson, 1994) that can be smaller. Leaves appearing evergreen but actually deciduous for a few weeks during flowering in the early spring, although trees from further north within its natural range show some natural tendency toward partial deciduousness in the colder months

Identifying Characteristics

Medium to large-sized trees 50-80 ft (15-25 m) tall, with short trunks, long branches, and very broad crowns occasionally approaching 150 ft (45.7 m) wide, but with longer trunks and narrower crowns in some older woodlands, occasionally to 115 ft (35 m) tall. Very large, old trees can have trunks exceeding 10 ft (3 m) in diameter. Wood can lack obvious or distinct growth rings, especially towards the southern part of its range (Tomlinson, 1986). Short root suckers often forming near the trunk. Bark is gray, very dark brown, to black, and scaly to blocky. Young twigs tan to pale gray, covered in short hairs, becoming darker and nearly smooth in the second year. Buds small, red-brown, rounded.

Flower Seed Head

Male and female flowers inconspicuous, borne separately on the same tree (typical of all oaks), female flowers wind-pollinated, solitary or in clusters of 2-3 or rarely up to 5, male flowers in catkins of several flowers. Acorns stalked, solitary or up to five in a cluster, acorn caps 0.3-0.6 in (8-15 mm) long and wide, bowl- to goblet-shaped, with numerous, tiny, sharp-pointed scales, nuts barrel-shaped to egg-shaped, 0.6-1.0 in (15-25 mm) long, dark brown to black.

Seed Fruit

Seedlings with a swollen primary root shortly after germination

Where Found

Native to the southeastern coastal plain of the United States, from southeastern Virginia southward to south Florida and west to eastern Texas (Nixon & Muller, 1997). It is common to abundant or occasionally weedy throughout much of its natural range, but less so at its northeastern extremity in Virginia where it is relatively rare except along the coast near Virginia Beach

Growth Habit

woody bush or tree

Thorns or Spines

not present

Approximate Flower Diameter


Dominant Flower Color


Flower Symmetry

not symmetrical

Leaf Hairs

has hairs

Leaf Shape


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Margin


Leaf Structure


Leaf Stalk

shorter than leaf

Stem Hairs

no hairs

Stem Cross Section

round or oval

Milky Sap

not present

Life Cycle



not present

Plant Type