why do live oaks survive a strom?

sdogwood(9)October 21, 2005

we are still cleaning up from hurricane rita and planing to plant a shade tree. we'd love to plant a live oak but they are slow growers and we are not spring chickens.

the town is full of many large trees uprooted or snapped but the magestic oaks were not harmed. what makes them so strong?

merci beacoup, dogwood

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tedlyxx(z9 LA)

They're broader than tall and have a very low center of gravity, so they're harder to blow over. The wood is very dense and strong, that is why the government in the early 1800s designated naval oak reserves for shipbuilding purposes. They've evolved mainly in the coastal southeast where they have been subject to many countless hurricanes over the millenia and have learned to adapt to them.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 4:00PM
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(1) The root systems are very broad (2) the wood is brittle so limbs break out before the tree blows over (3) The leaves are small and widely spaced so they are less resistant to wind. All part of God's plan of adaptation.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 1:13AM
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WannaBGardener(8b & 4a)

To every rule there is an exception. After Ivan here in the Pensacola area, many a live oak (huge ones I may add) toppled over. when one came down on my fiends house it looked as if some one had taken a chain saw and cut the house in half. True they had been standing for many years, but Ivan did the job.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 9:03AM
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Some huge oaks in my Pensacola neighborhood were uprooted by Ivan as well. I'm 68 and they were large trees when I was tiny. Fortunately the 50 year old trees in my yard just lost limbs and did not uproot.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 2:02PM
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Biinaboo, Zone 10, Naples, Gulf Coast

they are NOT good huricane trees where i am. when charlie came through last year EVERY SINGLE ONE came down. even the BIG ones that were 40 feet tall. i saw one go over that had a root ball nearly 2 stories tall. and i saw another that the a branch had a diamiter of at least 18 inches....snapped clean in half. I'm not quite sure where you are located or how close you are to the coast. I am 3 miles from the beach in fort myers (south west florida). we were about 15 to 20 miles south of the eye when it hit land. I would NOT recomend a live oak. they are pretty but not sturdy. if you're looking for a neat shade tree, look into the poinsiana tree. they have the most beautiful spraling canopies with bright orange flowers and long (12 inches or more) flat seed pods. I don't think they leave a lot of yard litter either...maybe only the seed pods once they are dropped. in my opinion though the once a year clean-up of the pods would be worth the flowers they put out...they canopy is really cool too. almost umbrella-like.

just my 2 cents

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 10:14AM
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The live oak is indeed a hurricane survivor. It has a low center of gravity with its low spreading branches. And its wood is extremely strong. NOT brittle. "Old Ironsides" the USS Constitution, was not built with "brittle wood". Also, they are NOT slow growing. With a little water and fert they are fine trees in fifteen years.

Biinaboo's anecdotal experiance is simply miss-leading. The simple truth is that up and down every southern coast, the closer one gets to the beach, the more dominant the live oak becomes. There is a reason for that.

Southern Magnolia also does well in hurricanes provided its lower limbs are not cut off. Salt water flooding will kill it though. They make a poor lawn tree because of leaf litter. Bald cypress can also handle hurricane winds.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 6:43AM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

biinaboo...your statement is not exactly right. The reason why many trees were toppled during charlie was because he was a very strong category 4 storm. One that completely wallopped areas just south of tampa. No tree can withstand winds like that after a while. Its more a result of stronger winds started by tornados that spin up much higher winds in localized areas.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 2:46AM
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Watched some large branches break from oaks here. Wind gusts would blow and bend/twist them more and farther than you would think was possible. Then when the wind would suddenly die off momentarly, some of the larger limbs, when snapping back into position, their mass would carry them well back beyond normal, thats when they would break.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 9:19AM
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A lot of Live Oaks are in areas where the soil is sandy and light. These will blow over first. And the very old trees quite often have hollow centers. Sometimes these even fall without a hurricane.

They are well worth planting as you will begin to have the makings of a fine tree in 10-15 years. You shouldn't have to worry about them blowing over for another 50.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 3:52PM
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