Southern Live Oak
Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) – A nearly evergreen tree that reaches heights of 50 feet, identified by its impressive size and horizontal branching. Often festooned with Spanish Moss and Resurrection Fern, live oaks were once prized by the U.S. Navy for shipbuilding. The Naval Live Oaks Reserve in Gulf Breeze (part of Gulf Islands National Seashore) was set aside by then-president John Quincy Adams in 1828 to ensure a continuous and future supply of the invaluable trees. Tall pines in the reserve were used for masts. Live oaks can withstand occasional floods and hurricanes, are somewhat salt tolerant and resistant to rot and decay. Excellent cover for owls and other birds; acorns provide food for birds and squirrels, while the leaves are the favorite food of the Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar.