This is the LIVE OAK. The live oak is a majestic looking tree with a large trunk, gnarly long branches, and an impressive canopy. These trees can grow up to 70-80 feet tall, and some of its branches can reach lengths of 120 feet. The range of the live oak extends from southeastern Virginia, to southern Florida, and west to southern Texas. The fruit of the live oak tree, known as an “acorn” or “oak nut”, has a tough leathery shell which sits in a cup called a cupule. Live oak trees produce acorns when they are 20-50 years old. The tough, oval shaped leaves are 2 to 5 inches long with a leathery feel. A live oak is always green because the new leaves push the old leaves out…. thus, giving it the name “Live Oak.” Because wood from live oak trees is strong and hard, it is used to make ships, furniture, flooring, and drums. This evergreen tree can absorb up to 50 gallons of water each day. Oak trees are famous for their longevity, as most of them live for up to 200 years.
In the late 1700s, the US Navy Ship, USS Constitution was built out of live oak trees from Cumberland Island, Georgia. During the war of 1812, the USS Constitution fought against the British warship HMS Guerriere in a heated sea battle. The hull of the USS Constitution was so strong from the live oak wood, cannonballs bounced off the side of the ship, which earned the ship the name “Old Ironsides.” She is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat today. The live oak is the official state tree of Georgia and is a symbol of strength and endurance.