Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Quercus virginiana

Introductory

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer, H. 1992. Quercus virginiana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ []. ABBREVIATION : QUEVIR SYNONYMS : No entry SCS PLANT CODE : QUVI COMMON NAMES : southern live oak Virginia live oak scrub live oak TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of southern live oak is Quercus virginiana Mill. [21,31]. Southern live oak hybridizes with dwarf live oak (Q. minima), swamp white oak (Q. bicolor), Durand oak (Q. durandi), overcup oak (Q. lyrata), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), and post oak (Q. stellata) [31]. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Southern live oak occurs on the lower Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States from southeastern Virginia to Florida, including the Florida Keys, and west to southeastern Texas [21,31]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna STATES : AL AR FL GA KY LA MS OK NC SC TN TX VA MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K060 Mesquite savanna K061 Mesquite - acacia savanna K062 Mesquite - live oak savanna K071 Shinnery K085 Mesquite - buffalograss K086 Juniper - oak savanna K090 Live oak - sea oats K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K115 Sand pine scrub SAF COVER TYPES : 66 Ashe juniper - redberry juniper 67 Mohrs oak 68 Mesquite 69 Sand pine 71 Longleaf - scrub oak 73 Southern redcedar 74 Cabbage palmetto 84 Slash pine 89 Live oak 111 South Florida slash pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Southern live oak is a common dominant in maritime forests and on hammocks bordering coastal and inland marshes.

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Southern live oak wood is heavy and strong but is little used commercially [21]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Southern live oak acorns are an important food source for many birds and mammals, including northern bobwhite, Florida scrub jay, mallard, sapsuckers, wild turkey, black bear, squirrels, and white-tailed deer. Because of fall germination, the acorns are not available for very long [40]. Southern live oaks in Texas coastal prairies provide shade for wildlife and livestock [43]. PALATABILITY : Southern live oak acorns are a sweet and desirable food [21,20], but their palatability diminishes after germination [40]. New root sprouts are also palatable [39]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Southern live oak browse is low in digestible energy [6]. Actively growing sprouts are nutritious, with 13 to 17 percent crude protein [39]. The palatability, digestibility, and seasonal abundance of acorns make them an important food source. Southern live oak acorns are low in protein, but high in fat and fiber. The following table gives nutritional data in dry weight percent for southern live oak acorns [38,40]: Location protein fat N-free fiber calcium phosphorus extract TX 5.61 1.84 44.00 16.52 0.86 0.16 TX 5.48 8.29 77.73 2.28 MS 5.22 8.59 67.95 16.71 0.18 0.08 AR 5.80 6.10 71.70 14.60 0.13 0.09 COVER VALUE : Southern live oak provides cover for birds and mammals. The threatened Florida scrub jay nests in southern live oak [54]. In southern Texas, southern live oak provides nest sites for many species, including the hooded oriole, ferruginous pygmy-owl, red-billed pigeon, northern beardless tyrannulet, and Couch's kingbird. The tropical parula requires the rounded clumps of ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata) found in southern live oak for nest construction [14]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Southern live oak is used to revegetate coal mine spoils in Texas. Southern live oak inoculated with either endo- or ectomycorrhizae have better growth and development on these lignite overburden sites [9]. Southern live oak is used for reforestation of the southernmost portions of the lower Mississippi Valley, which were originally cleared for agriculture [3]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Southern live oak is used for shade and as an ornamental [21]. Southern live oak is considered "one of the noblest trees in the world and virtually an emblem of the Old South" [19]. In the past, southern live oak was used for ship building [21]. Native Americans produced an oil comparable to olive oil from southern live oak acorns [20]. It is believed that Native Americans used southern live oaks as trail markers by staking saplings down, causing them to grow at extreme angles [19]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Dense stands of southern live oak reduce forage production for livestock. Southern live oak is extremely hard to kill because it sprouts vigorously from the root collar and roots [20]. However, the soil-applied herbicide, tebuthiuron, effectively controls southern live oak. In a study in Texas, herbicide treatment of southern live oak increased grass yields in the first posttreatment growing season and increased forb yields in 3 to 4 years posttreatment [15]. On the Edwards Plateau in Texas, southern live oak was reduced by 75 percent after mechanical brush control, using the double chain method. The oaks sprouted, but white-tailed deer browsing kept sprouts at ground level for the first posttreatment year [39]. Southern live oak decline, a wilt disease caused by Ceratocystis fagacearum, is a serious threat to Texas live oak (Q. fusiformis) and possibly southern live oak varieties in other states as well [21]. Fungicides are not effective because the fungus colonizes deep in the sapwood. Southern live oak firewood should not be transported into wilt-free areas because the fungus survives in dead wood for up to 1 year [30]. Leaf blister, caused by Taphrina caerulescens, defoliates trees. Heartwood decay (Polyporus dryophylus) is prevalent in southern live oak, but the sapwood is so strong that infected trees usually remain standing [21]. Southern live oak is a favorite of gall wasps, but the galls do not appear to affect the health of the trees [19]. Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.), ball moss, and Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) live in southern live oak. Spanish moss accumulates in such abundance, that it can shade out the lower parts on the crown and interfere with photosynthesis. Spanish moss can be controlled by spraying [19]. A borer, Archodontes melanopus, attacks roots of young southern live oak [19]. Southern live oak is extremely susceptible to damage by freezing temperatures, but it withstands hurricanes [21].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Southern live oak is a shrubby to large and spreading, long-lived, nearly evergreen tree. It drops its leaves and grows new leaves within several weeks in the spring. Open-grown trees average 50 feet (15 m) in height and 36 to 48 inches (91-122 cm) in d.b.h., but can have trunks up to 79 inches (200 cm) in d.b.h. The rounded crowns may span 150 feet (46 m) or more [20,21]. Lower limbs sweep to the ground and then curve upward. Southern live oak growing at an angle of up to 45 degrees can still support a great mass of limbs. The bark is furrowed longitudinally, and the small acorns are long and tapered. Trees usually have rounded clumps of ball moss or thick drapings of Spanish moss [19,21]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Southern live oak is monecious. Acorns are produced annually and often in great abundance [21]. Acorns can be produced on root sprouts only 1 foot (0.3 m) high [45]. Dissemination is by gravity and, to a lesser extent, animals [21]. Germination is hypogeal and occurs shortly after seedfall if the site is moist and warm. Few acorns overwinter since they are eaten by weevils and animals [21]. Southern live oak is fast growing if well-watered and soil conditions are good. Seedlings can grow 4 feet (1.2 m) in the first year, but this rate tapers off as size increases [19,45]. Under ideal conditions, a southern live oak can attain a d.b.h. of 54 inches (137 cm) in less than 70 years [20]. Southern live oak sprouts from the root collar and roots, and forms dense clones up to 66 feet (20 m) in diameter [8]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Southern live oak grows in moist to dry sites. It withstands occasional floods, but not constant saturation [47]. It is resistant to salt spray and high soil salinity. Southern live oak grows best in well-drained sandy soils and loams but also grows in clay and alluvial soils [21]. It grows up to 328 feet (100 m) in elevation [11]. The native range of southern live oak coincides approximately with the southeastern maritime sand strands [35], as well as with the 41.9 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 deg C) isotherm for the average minimum daily temperature of the coldest month [26]. Although generally considered a mesophytic species, southern live oak is common on xeric, mesic, and hydric hammocks in the southeastern United States. (A hammock is a dense, hardwood forest that occurs in pinelands and in limited, elevated areas amidst wet prairies and marshes.) Although southern live oak is absent from the wetter areas in hydric hammocks [47], it occurs in some hammocks where its roots are covered by salt water during high tide [45]. Southern live oak also occurs in flatwood sites and on the outer terraces of floodplains [53]. In addition to overstory associates mentioned in SAF cover types, common associates of southern live oak include southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), water oak (Quercus nigra), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), red bay (Persia bobonia), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). On less well-drained sites, southern live oak is associated with sugarberry (Celtis laevigata), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and American elm (Ulmus americana) [21]. Woody species found with southern live oak in mottes include American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), and greenbrier (Smilax spp.) [42]. Netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata) and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) grow with southern live oak in riparian areas in Texas [53]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Southern live oak is intermediate in shade tolerance. Once established, it withstands competition. Southern live oak is extremely salt tolerant, and this resistance may account for its dominance in many climax coastal forests in the northern part of its range [22]. Southern live oak may also be a climatic climax on Carolina coasts [26]. The exclusion of fire has increased the presence of southern live oak in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. In the absence of fire, southern live oak expands from hammocks into dry, coastal prairies in Florida and Louisiana. The expanding vegetation is dominated by southern live oak and saw palmetto, which are characteristic of hammock fringe vegetation [16,24] In the absence of fire, southern magnolia and southern live oak form a climatic climax on former longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas [8]. Slash pine (P. elliottii)-oak vegetation is also replaced by southern live oak [16]. In Texas, fire suppression and overgrazing have created a southern live oak-juniper disclimax in place of mixed prairie [39]. Twenty-five years after abandonment, southern live oak seedlings appear in fallow agricultural fields on floodplains that once supported southern live oak. A southern live oak forest matures 50 years after seedling establishment [12]. In the absence of fire, xeric hammocks dominated by southern live oak, may develop into mesic hammocks, but changes are slow [46]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Small flowers are produced in the spring when new leaves are grown. Pollen is wind dispersed during the first 2 weeks in April. Acorns mature the following September and fall before December [19,21].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Southern live oak has thin bark and is readily top-killed by fire. This species has two primary means of surviving fire: (1) Root crowns and roots survive fire and sprout vigorously, and (2) southern live oak forests discourage entry of fire from adjacent communities (see below) [10,33]. The large, spreading oak canopy encloses a humid microclimate. The leaves are concave and, as litter, hold moisture to the ground. The moist environment discourages fire entry and keeps fire temperatures low [13]. In East Texas, southern live oak is considered fire tolerant as long as humidities are above 45 percent [4]. There is generally a space between the understory and canopy which prevents fire from crowning. Saw palmetto will carry fire into a southern live oak stand, but it burns close to the ground [10]. The dense southern live oak canopy inhibits growth of understory vegetation (e.g. grass) and litter is sparse [47,52]. Southern live oak litter burns at lower temperatures than the litter of turkey oak (Quercus laevis), post oak, or longleaf pine [52,25]. During an experimental fire, temperatures were measured from the base of southern live oaks to the adjacent grassland. The maximum temperatures on the litter surface decreased from 412 degrees Fahrenheit (211 deg C) in the grasslands to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 deg C), on average, at the base of the southern live oaks [25]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire top-kills southern live oak. Dominant southern live oaks can survive low-severity fire that does not crown. Dominant southern live oaks larger than 3 inches (8 cm) in d.b.h. survived a fire on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Smaller trees were top-killed [10]. The root crown and roots of young top-killed southern live oaks survive most fires. A dry season hot fire in Florida killed and top-killed many southern live oak that had invaded a prairie from a nearby hammock. Southern live oaks greater than 12 inches (30 cm) in d.b.h. did not recover by sprouting, but smaller oaks did. Dominant southern live oaks in the established hammock areas were not killed [24]. The average surface fire is hot enough to destroy all acorns on the ground [16]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : If top-killed, young southern live oaks sprout from the root collar and from roots. Most sprout growth occurs in the first postfire year [1,2]. Southern live oak stem densities increased after a prescribed fire of scrubby southern live oak plots in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Coastal Plain. Acorn production was reduced in the first postfire year, but increased to preburn levels in the second year. Top-killed southern live oak is capable of flowering and producing acorns on sprouts in the first postfire year. Mottes containing large southern live oaks did not burn [42]. The same plots in the Aransas National Wildlife refuge were burned every 2 years for 10 years. After 10 years, acorn production was reduced compared to unburned plots, but the density of southern live oak stems remained higher than preburn levels. Height growth was kept at a minimum by the biennial fires. Large mottes were more susceptible to burning with each subsequent fire [42]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed surface fires are used to maintain southern live oak savanna by killing juniper and improving grass and forage quality. If fires are frequent, however, large southern live oak mottes will eventually be eliminated [28,42,51]. Lack of fire in oak savannas in Texas results in increased, dense, thickets of southern live oak. Fire cannot be used to restore savannas because fire results in increased stem densities. Frequent fires keep oak under control, but do not eradicate it [43]. In Florida, fires during a dry, growing season may reduce southern live oak-saw palmetto hammock fringe habitat and restore prairie [24].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Quercus virginiana
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