A massive, evergreen tree with rough grayish, often deeply furrowed bark. Leaves are simple, alternate, leathery, and dark shiny green above. The leaves underneath are pale gray and hairy. The cups on this acorn are shallow, enclosing about one-quarter to one-half inch of the nut. This is a long-lived tree. According to legend, a live oak tree grows for 200 years, lives for 200 years, and dies for 200 years.
Wildlife – Larval host to the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, tropical checked skipper, Pyrgus oileus, and white “M” hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album, varieties of butterfly. Quail, woodpeckers, and blue jays feed on the acorns.
Live oaks are of the “white” oak group, having acorns less bitter than “red” oaks. Native Americans, settlers, and explorers alike harvested the acorns for food, but southeastern U.S. tribes used them as animal feed. Also the wood (still prized) is often utilized as fuel, as well as in tool making. Uses include as a building material (lumber, timbers, etc), as a component of mortar and caulks, as a source of lye, and for tanning hides. During the War of 1812, the warship U.S.S. Constitution defeated five British warships and captured numerous merchant ships and earned her the nickname of “Old Ironsides.” Her success was in part due to her inner frame construction of live oak.