Sand Live Oak
Quercus virginiana var. geminate (Small)
Fagaceae (Beech) Family
Sand Live Oak is a variety of the Live Oak. It occupies
dry, sandy soils and coastal dunes from southeastern North Carolina
to Florida and west to southeastern Louisiana. It is a smaller
and less impressive tree from 20 to 30 feet in height with a
trunk up to about a foot in diameter.
The leaves are small, usually 1 to 2.5 inches long, more
veiny in appearance, and have more strongly revolute margins. The
leaves, especially the younger ones, look like little upside-down
boats, whereas the leaf blades of Live Oak are typically flat,
and not revolute (wavy). Further, the midvein and major lateral
veins of the upper surface of Sand Live Oak are noticeably impressed;
the veins on the upper surface are scarcely or not at all impressed.
The leaves overwinter and drop as the new leaves and flowers
emerge in spring.
These evergreen trees are widely used in landscape projects
throughout the coastal reguon, attaining a sculptured rounded
There are numerous differences between the Sand Live Oak
and Live Oak in that the smaller tree takes on different forms
in different environments: When it occurs on coastal sand dunes,
above the herbaceous zone where sea oats can be found, it typically
forms dense, impenetrable thickets with the crowns of the individual
shrub-trees rounded and clipped smooth by wind blown sand and
salt. Where it occurs in scrub, it is typically a shrub, rarely
more than 10 ft tall. In high pine forests, it will grow to become
a fairly large individual tree, or sometimes, in a clonal copse,
with multiple stems.
The specific epithet, geminata, is Latin for "twin"
referring to the notion that the acorns occur in pairs. However,
more often than not, they occur in clusters of three or more.
The largest known sand live oak is located in Gainesville, Florida
and stands 94 ft tall.
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