USA Official State Tree of Georgia

Live Oak

(Fagaceae Quercus virginiana)
Adopted in 1937.


In 1937, the live oak, Fagaceae Quercus virginiana, was adopted as the official tree at the request of the Edmund Burke Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.



It flourishes along the coastal plains and on the islands where the first settlers made their homes. Many famous Georgians, as early as General James Edward Oglethorpe, were able to enjoy its beauty.

Live oak (Quercus virginiana), also called Virginia live oak, is evergreen with a variety of forms, shrubby or dwarfed to large and spreading, depending upon the site. Usually live oak grows on sandy soils of low coastal areas, but it also grows in dry sandy Woods or moist rich woods. The wood is very heavy and strong but is little used at present. Birds and animals eat the acorns. Live oak is fast-growing and easily transplanted when young so is used widely as an ornamental. Variations in leaf sizes and acorn cup shapes distinguish two varieties from the typical, Texas live oak (Q. uirginiana var. fusiformis (Small) Sarg.) and sand live oak (Q. virginiana var. geminata (Small) Sarg.)

  • Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, leathery, 2 to 5 inches long, oblong or elliptical in shape with an entire or spiny and revolute margin. The upper surface is lustrous, the lower is pale and pubescent. Generally, not bristle-tipped.
  • Flower: Staminate flowers borne on catkins. Pistillate flowers borne on spikes. Appearing March through May.
  • Fruit: Acorns are in clusters of 3 to 5, maturing in one season. The nut is dark in color, 3/4 inch long and covered 1/3 by the cap. The cap is bowl-shaped and warty, termed "turbinate" by Harlow et al. Maturing in September of the first year.
  • Twig: Slender, gray and pubescent, with small, blunt, multiple terminal buds.
  • Bark: Rapidly developing red-brown furrows with small surface scales. Later, becoming black and very blocky.
  • Form: A medium-sized tree that can grow to massive proportions. Open-grown trees develop a huge rounded crown. The largest crowns may be 150 feet across.


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Hamamelidae –
Order Fagales –
Family Fagaceae – Beech family
Genus Quercus L. – oak
Species Quercus virginiana P. Mill. – live oak


Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture