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Sand live oak Quercus geminata
Copyright by: George D. Gann
General Landscape Uses:
Accent or specimen tree in residential and commerical landscapes in areas with dry sandy soils.
Ecological Restoration Notes: An important subcanopy element of scrub and scrubby flatwoods, but fire is required to prevent succession to xeric hammock.
Native plant nurseries.
Description: Medium to large tree with a rounded, often irregular crown from a few spreading branches. Trunks often leaning, to 3 feet in diameter, but usually much smaller. Bark thick, pale gray broken into numerous ridges and furrows. Leaves are thick and stiff, the edges rolled downward, dark green above, the lower surface downy, usually 1-2 1/2 inches long.
Dimensions: Typically 20-40 feet in height in South Florida; to 94 feet in Florida. Often as broad as tall or sometimes broader.
Growth Rate: Slow.
Southeastern United States south to Broward and Collier counties.
Habitats: Scrub, scrubby flatwoods and dry hammocks.
Soils: Moist to dry, well-drained sandy soils, with or without humusy top layer.
Nutritional Requirements: Moderate to low; it prefers soils with organic content, but will still grow reasonably well in nutrient poor soils.
Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.
Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
Light Requirements: Full sun.
Flower Color: Green.
Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous. Pollination is by wind.
Flowering Season: Spring.
Fruit: Brown acorn, 2/3" long. Edible.
Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Primary larval host plant for oak hairstreak (Fixsenia favonius) butterflies; larval host for Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius), red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) and white-M hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) butterflies; possible larval host for Juvenal's duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis). The acorns are utilized by squirrels.
Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed.
References: Miami-Dade County Landscape Manual (2005).
Comments: Sand live oak is very similar in appearance to Virginia live oak and is closely related. This is an excellent tree for areas with drier soils. Horticultural synonyms: Q. virginiana var. geminata.