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SEVA

Virginia's southern live oaks (Quercus virginiana)

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SEVA

After doing some recent exploring in various areas around southeast Virginia, I've noticed many different forms of live oak.  They range from very small shrubs directly on the coast to large trees as you travel inland.  Since southern live oak reaches it's northernmost limit in southeast Virginia, I thought it'd be interesting to document some of my findings.  Most of the photos that I will be sharing soon are from parts of Virginia Beach that are lesser known to those who visit.

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SEVA

The following photos were taken at False Cape in Virginia Beach, VA. 

The first 2 were the small shrubby live oaks on the dunes.  The dunes are larger than they appear in the photos.

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SEVA

Beginning to get larger as you walk through the dunes.

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SEVA

These live oaks were mixed with loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and pond pine (Pinus serotina).

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NC_Palm_Enthusiast

Great to see some beautiful specimens growing like that up around Virginia Beach. Also love the spanish moss, how common is it there? 

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SEVA
51 minutes ago, NC_Palm_Enthusiast said:

Great to see some beautiful specimens growing like that up around Virginia Beach. Also love the spanish moss, how common is it there? 

Spanish moss isn't very common here.  First Landing (pic below) and False Cape have the most from what I've seen.  I've seen very small populations of it in other areas, but only in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk so far.  I've heard that it grows in other neighbouring VA cities/counties, but have yet to see it.  I've seen it (and alligators) in Gates, NC as well, which borders Suffolk, VA.

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Edited by SEVA
Clarification
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redbeard917

Very nice, of course some of the differences you're seeing might be a result of comparing Q. virginiana vs Q. geminata.

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SEVA
1 hour ago, redbeard917 said:

Very nice, of course some of the differences you're seeing might be a result of comparing Q. virginiana vs Q. geminata.

That thought had crossed my mind, but most sources I've read say that Q. geminata is only found from LA to FL to NC.  I wonder if it truly is found in VA and hasn't been officially documented.  I've attached a photo I took on the Chesapeake Bay side of First Landing.  This specimen had leaf margins that curled inwards.  I wish I had taken a photo closer up, but maybe next time I visit.  Very few looked like this one, but I saw a few both in First Landing and False Cape.

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bubba

Love Live Oaks! Never knew they could grow in Virginia. Thank you

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SEVA
1 hour ago, bubba said:

Love Live Oaks! Never knew they could grow in Virginia. Thank you

Yup; they're native here.  Probably my favorite tree.  The epithet is also in reference to Virginia (virginiana = of/from Virginia).

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SEVA

A few more from VA Beach.

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SEVA

I always enjoy seeing a row of live oaks with their branches arching over a road/driveway/path.

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Silas_Sancona

Great photo documentation.

Reminds me of how both Coast Live Oak and CA. Bay ( Bay Laurel, some people refer to it as both ) can behave exposed to wind, salt spray, etc closer to the coast vs. in more protected spots not too far inland. There are a few places north of Santa Cruz where you'll see one or both sp. following the contours of hillsides that face the ocean, ie: taller toward the bottom of the hill/ canyon they're growing in. Shorter/ more stunted, windswept as you climb higher, only to be completely cut off and leave a sort of bald spot closest to the peak.  Behind those hills, trees return to their normal size. There's also a preserve named Elfin Forest Natural Area ( part of Los Osos Baywood Park, San Luis Obispo County ) where Coadt Live oaks grow 4-20ft in height on old dunes that are 150 ft in height above the southern end of Morro Bay.  

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VA Jeff

The northernmost locale for native live oak is a hard to access spot in Matthews County (New Point Comfort area).   I long ago tried to reach the spot when I had specific coordinates, but gave up.  Private land of I recall.  There are multiple spots in VA Beach with native live oaks.  I've also seen them growing well after cold winters at the Univ. of Richmond.

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SEVA
18 hours ago, VA Jeff said:

The northernmost locale for native live oak is a hard to access spot in Matthews County (New Point Comfort area).   I long ago tried to reach the spot when I had specific coordinates, but gave up.  Private land of I recall.  There are multiple spots in VA Beach with native live oaks.  I've also seen them growing well after cold winters at the Univ. of Richmond.

I didn't realize they grew naturally north of Hampton, but not too surprised since some of the largest in the Commonwealth are found there.  It'd be interesting to see the northernmost stand.  I haven't seen the ones in Hampton in person yet though.  So far, the largest I've seen was in Chesapeake.  After some research, it turns out that one was spared from a highway project.  I'm glad it wasn't cut, because it turned out to be the 5th largest in VA from what I read.

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SEVA

Norfolk, VA. The Sabal minor palms were about 7ft tall in overall height.

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Edited by SEVA
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SEVA

Norfolk, VA. Saw some small clumps of Spanish moss in the live oaks. There were so few, I almost didn't see it.

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Jcalvin
On ‎10‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 1:23 PM, SEVA said:

I always enjoy seeing a row of live oaks with their branches arching over a road/driveway/path.

1025191130_HDR.jpg

Look more like Q. Geminata.

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SEVA
34 minutes ago, Jcalvin said:

Look more like Q. Geminata.

What characteristics point towards Q. geminata rather than Q. virginiana? Many sources say Q. geminata is not native to/ found in Virginia, yet others do.

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SEVA

I found variability in acorn shape.  The more spherical acorns came from the tree in the photo. Is this Q. geminata? I've read that Q. geminata tends to have leaf margins that curl inwards and tend to have deeper/ more noticeable leaf veination.  Additionally, that they have thicker twigs and are more pubescent on the new shoot growth and leaf undersides compared with Q. virginiana.  I do remember thinking some of the trees had twigs that appeared thicker than what I'm used to (at least with the ones in my yard).  It would be neat to have 2, rather than 1, member of the Quercus series Virentes native here.

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SEVA

Q. geminata? This was a broken twig I found on the ground.

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Jcalvin

Went hunting today at my home place. We have about a 100 acre sandhill on the property that has everything typical of a sandhill: turkey oaks, mix of live oaks and sand live oaks,  a few varieties of pine (slash, long leaf, loblolly, shortleafed pine), gulberry, and palmetto bushes. It has an abundance of wild turkey, deer, golpher tortoise that are attracted to the cover and fruit this habitat provides. 

Its probably a lot similar to the coastal region of Virginia. 

 

Im trying to upload photos, but having a difficult time right now. 

Edited by Jcalvin

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Jcalvin
On 11/7/2019 at 10:12 PM, SEVA said:

I found variability in acorn shape.  The more spherical acorns came from the tree in the photo. Is this Q. geminata? I've read that Q. geminata tends to have leaf margins that curl inwards and tend to have deeper/ more noticeable leaf veination.  Additionally, that they have thicker twigs and are more pubescent on the new shoot growth and leaf undersides compared with Q. virginiana.  I do remember thinking some of the trees had twigs that appeared thicker than what I'm used to (at least with the ones in my yard).  It would be neat to have 2, rather than 1, member of the Quercus series Virentes native here.

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The leaves in this pic look more like a Live Oak than Sand Live Oak (they really look more similar to a Laurel Oak). 

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Jcalvin

These photos are some I just took of one of the Live Oaks in my yard. They’re noticeably larger than the Sand Live Oaks on the Sandhill. 

I couldn’t get a picture of the acorns. They’re a good ways up the tree. The blue jays are currently tearing them up. 

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SEVA
3 hours ago, Jcalvin said:

The leaves in this pic look more like a Live Oak than Sand Live Oak (they really look more similar to a Laurel Oak). 

I've seen quite a bit of variation in the southern/sand (since it seems like we have both) live oaks around here. I wonder if this could be a hybrid between the 2 live oaks (it was definitely a member of the Quercus series Virentes).  We do have both laurel and sand laurel/Darlington oak here as well.  According to one of the links you shared, Q. geminata is found from MS to VA.  This link says it's found from LA to NC (https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/quercus-geminata/).  I guess it's found from LA to VA?  From my brief research about it, so far I can't find any agencies in VA that recognize Q. geminata as a native/present species.  There might be a few that do, but I haven't thoroughly researched yet.  However, given the academic sources that include VA I suppose it is here.

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Jcalvin

The smaller oaks on the beach definitely look like geminata. Usually when I see small, scruby oaks here like that, they’re not Live Oaks. Geminata have a tendency to sucker more so than the Southern Live Oak. Sand Live Oaks (what we usually just call scrub oaks) have smaller, and almost thicker,   curled leaves than Southern Live Oaks. 

 

Below is a suckering Geminata.

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SEVA

I'll have to pay more attention from now on when observing our local live oaks.  I guess the title should state Virginia's southern and sand live oaks.

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VA Jeff

Some of the live oaks in VA Beach are clearly, unquestionably virginiana.  Argue all you want whether they are introduced or not, but it seems unlikely.  Certainly geminata is likely to be present as well, thus some inevitable confusion thrown in.  Old records of live oaks in Matthews County and the Eastern Shore hold some credence.  Anyway, I I think I might have accidentally dropped numerous Virginiana based live oak acorns on the Eastern shore at some point in the last 20 years.

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SEVA
9 hours ago, VA Jeff said:

Some of the live oaks in VA Beach are clearly, unquestionably virginiana.  Argue all you want whether they are introduced or not, but it seems unlikely.  Certainly geminata is likely to be present as well, thus some inevitable confusion thrown in.  Old records of live oaks in Matthews County and the Eastern Shore hold some credence.  Anyway, I I think I might have accidentally dropped numerous Virginiana based live oak acorns on the Eastern shore at some point in the last 20 years.

Who said Q. virginiana and/or Q. geminata were introduced to Virginia?  Q. virginiana is definitely a known native of Virginia (including VB).  Regarding Q. geminata, I'm not saying it isn't native or introduced.  I'm merely discussing the discrepancies between different academic sources pertaining to the range of the species.  Just based on my personal and online observations, I would say Q. geminata is in fact found in VA.  I just wasn't sure due to the discrepancies.  I certainly plan to study Q. geminata further, since it wasn't one of the species covered in my dendro courses at the undergraduate or graduate level.

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