Sand live oak

Quercus geminata
Family: Fagaceae

Natural History

Sand live oak is a member of the Fagaceae or Beech family. The specific epithet of "geminata" means "twins" and refers to the paired acorns of the tree.

Sand live oak is very similar to live oak (Quercus virginiana) and is considered a subspecies of live oak by some taxonomists. The leaves of sand live oak are distinctly more curled under at the margins and have obviously sunken veins on the upper surface. Sand live oak grows smaller than live oaks and is generally found on drier, more sandy sites. Sand live oak often grows in thickets of small trees in sand pine scrub.

Sand live oak is sometimes planted as a roadside ornamental tree, because of its small, compact size and attractive, dark green foliage. The wood is of limited commercial value.

Sand live oak is found in the Atlantic coastal plains from southeastern Virginia, south as far as central Florida and west into Mississippi.


Identifying Characteristics

Size/Form: Sand live oak is a small to medium, often shrubby-looking, tardily-deciduous tree, that grows from 70' to 80' tall and may form thickets.
Leaves: The leaves are similar to those of live oak, but smaller and more revolute. Leaves are oval to elliptical, from 1" to 2½" long, with a wedge-shaped base and acute tip. They are simple, alternately arranged and may persist on the trees into late winter or early spring. Leaf margins are distinctly turned under, giving the leaves an inverted-boat shape. They are thick, leathery and dark green in color, with obviously impressed veins (rugose). Undersides of leaves have pale grayish hairs. Leaf petioles are short and stout.
Fruit: The fruit is an ellipsoid, brownish acorn, borne in pairs, on short stalks.
Bark: The bark is dark, grayish-brown and furrowed with thick, rough ridges.
Habitat: Sand live oak grows best in deep, sandy soils. It prefers fertile, sandy sites, with partial shade and is often found in scrub habitats, or along sandy, coastal dunes.



Click on thumbnails to see a larger image in a new window. Close the new window to return to this page.



Leaf comparison


Learn More