Quercus virginiana: Southern Live Oak Cloaked in Ferns

Live Oak covered in ferns

We don’t have live oaks (Quercus virginiana, Southern live oak) in Lancashire, more’s the pity, as they are spectacular trees. Live oaks are named for their (almost) evergreen foliage which looks more like a small, magnolia leaf than an English oak leaf, but they might just as well have been named for the amount of life they home.

Even a relatively young tree looks venerable. Quick to grow above a deep tap root, live oaks amicably bear ferns and other epiphytes in outlandishly long and horizontal branches.

Live Oak with epiphytes in Jackson, MS
Live Oak with epiphytes in Jackson, MS

To those who tolerate anthropomorphism, I’ll whisper that the live oak’s luxuriant lushness looks like many outstretched arms are wearing a single, furry, green coat that alters itself to fit as the tree grows.

Gardeners who have tried and failed to establish grass under the shade of trees might note the monkey grass that works so well here.

Shared as part of TreeSquare

31 Replies to “Quercus virginiana: Southern Live Oak Cloaked in Ferns”

  1. I have a high tolerance for anthropomorphism, especially when I know the one being anthropomorphic knows the are being so. The sleeves do seem to be a tailored fit.

  2. DId you know those are called “resurrection ferns”? Because they dry up in drought weather and resurrect themselves when it rains. From the National Wildlife Federation website: “This remarkable plant can lose about 75 percent of its water content during a typical dry period and possibly up to 97 percent in an extreme drought. During this time, it shrivels up to a grayish brown clump of leaves. When it is exposed to water again, it will “come back to life” and look green and healthy. The plant gets its name from this supposed “resurrection,” but it never actually dies during the process. By contrast, most other plants can lose only 10 percent of their water content before they die.”

    1. I did know, although only as a result of being amazed by some shrivelling and greening back up on a log in my sweetheart’s garden.

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