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How Long Do Like Oaks Live?

I was recently ask a set of complicated questions about how long Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) live.

Angel Oak (Quercus virginiana) in Charleston, SC. Estimated to be between 300-400 years old. Photo Credit: J. Daugherty UF/IFAS

Question: “Is it true that live oaks only live for about 60 years?”

Answer: No. Live oaks can live for well over 60 years, often reaching 250-500 years in good growing locations. Maturity is reached by 75 years.

Question: “If it is true, those of us who live in a deed restricted community on small plots, should we remove them before then?”

Answer:  Having established that live oaks live longer than 60 years on average, one issue with these trees on small yard plots could be the maximum spread of 120 feet. Live oaks in forests will achieve a more upright habit, which can also be seen in heavily planted residential areas. I would not suggest removing a healthy tree. I would suggest thinking about which tree works best in the landscape before planting. Trees require both root and canopy space.

Question: “Will there be signs before they expire?”

Answer: Trees do offer signs that they are not well. Dead leaves at the top of a tree can be a sign that the tree is in decline. Fungal bodies on limbs or the trunk can also be a sign of decline. While poor branch attachments are not a specific sign of decline, they can signal a possible branch failure to address.

If you are concerned about your tree, contact an ISA Certified Arborist for a consultation. https://www.treesaregood.org/

Lives Oaks Grow in USDA hardiness zones 5B-10B.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/st564

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