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Live oak

From Academic Kids

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Southern live oaks on Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Georgia

Live oak is a common name for a number of unrelated oaks in several different sections of the genus Quercus that happen to share the character of evergreen foliage.

The name live oak comes from the fact that evergreen oaks are still green and "live" in winter, when other oaks are dormant, leafless and "dead"-looking. The name is used mainly in North America, where evergreen oaks are widespread in warmer areas, along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida, west along the Gulf Coast to Texas and across the southwest to California and southwest Oregon.

Evergreen oak species are also common in the warmer parts of Europe and Asia, and are included in this list for the sake of completeness. These species, although not having "live" in their common names in their countries of origin, are colloquially called live oaks when cultivated in North America.

When the term live oak is used in a specific rather than general sense, it most commonly refers to the Southern live oak (the first species so named), but can often refer to other species regionally.

In Texas, a small grove of live oaks (Texas live oak or Southern live oak) is known as a mott.

Evergreen species in genus Quercus

  • Section Quercus. The white oaks. Europe, Asia, north Africa, North America. Styles short; acorns mature in 6 months, sweet or slightly bitter, inside of acorn shell hairless.
  • Section Cerris. Europe, Asia, north Africa. Styles long; acorns mature in 18 months, very bitter, inside of acorn shell hairless or slightly hairy.
  • Section Protobalanus. Southwest USA & northwest Mexico. Styles short, acorns mature in 18 months, very bitter, inside of acorn shell woolly.
  • Section Lobatae. The red oaks. North, Central & South America. Styles long, acorns mature in 18 months, very bitter, inside of acorn shell woolly.

See the list of Quercus species for a fuller listing of oaks including deciduous species.

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