Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Southern Live Oak

When my parents told me they'd be spending Columbus Day weekend in Savannah and Hilton Head, I was happy for them, to be sure. But I may not have expressed that adequately, as my first response was a bit self-centered: "Will you take some pictures of the live oaks for me?!"

I've seen the southern live oak, Quercus virginiana before - after all I did go to grad school in Georgia. But, unfortunately, my photos - taken on a trip to Savannah in 1999 - aren't digital, so I issued speedy instructions to mom and dad to shoot away.

I'm hard-pressed to name another tree that is more picturesque than the southern live oak. Its open, vase-shaped habit is stunning, especially when planted in allees. Add to that, the trees have this great, lazy lean to them like the one below. It really does remind you of the south: long, hot summer days, mint juleps and Tennessee Williams. ...Well, it can remind me of those things!

Of course, the other characteristic that makes the southern live oak so remarkably beautiful isn't technically part of the tree at all, it's the Spanish moss that cascades from the trees' branches, swaying so slightly in the warm breeze.

Spanish moss, or Tillandsia usneoides, is an epiphyte - which means that it grows on another living plant. Epiphytes are similar to parasites in the fact that they rely on other living things for sustenance, but parasites ultimately damage the host organism, whereas an epiphyte can 'live in peace' with the host.


Lexanne H said...

Congratulations on training the 'rents to recognize a live oak! If I asked my mom to take a picture of a live oak I'd prolly get pics of cute guys and an explanation: "I thought you said stone cold foxes." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

Epiphytes = good! Beautiful pics, I can feel the moist air. No wait, that's actually what it feels like today in Northern California - humid! Unusually humid.
The rains have arrived, and it's warm and damp with some flooding around Santa Cruz.
The huge live oaks in my neighborhood make their presence known by dropping enough leaves to be swept up by the winds and blown into my small garden. Winter is around the corner!

azplantlady said...

What a great post. We grow Southern Live Oak trees in the Phoenix area, but they do not grow as large. Probably in response to the heat and lack of humidity.

John said...

Great shots of trees and moss

Viagra Online said...

hey how to recognize a live oak ? seriously! I can't recognize them, please help me!

safemeds said...

Oaks, those trees are something else. they look pretty good and it gives a good feeling to the place.