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Wormsloe Live Oak

Visions of the Old South would not be complete without the Live Oak graced with Spanish Moss and Resurrection Fern. This pleasantly shaped tree has provided more than just shade and memories for people on the coast where it predominates.

Even before the coming of the first colonists, native inhabitant's had used the small acorn from Live Oaks to thicken their venison stew or just to roast and eat the sweet meat. (Not all Live Oaks produce palatable fruit. It seems that only some individuals have such acorns and they are highly prized.)

With this nation's Independence came the need to protect itself from foreign antagonists and Live Oaks from Georgia played a role in this effort. A May 1774 order from the nation's capitol: "Four ships of war for the purpose of protecting American commerce against the attacks of Algerian pirates." New ships required strong timbers for building the vessels. Live Oak "knees" (the angular section of wood taken from the part where the massive limbs joined the thick trunk) were used to brace the sides of the wooden vessels. The strength of the live oak was greater than any carpenter could fabricate from two pieces of wood. Thus another order followed: "Every precaution should be taken to secure to the United States a lasting fund of Live Oaks for future use." Lands on St. Catherines Island were acquired by the Department of War and the first of several carefully tended groves of live oaks were secured. Eventually lands in Florida and South Carolina were similarly acquired.

The live oak, Georgia's state tree, ranges from southeastern Virginia south along the lower coastal plain to Florida and along the Gulf coastal plain to southern Texas. Evergreen over most of its ranges, the old leave persist each year until the new leaves fully develop. In the northern reaches of its range, long spells of unseasonably cold weather may cause the old leaves to drop prematurely but the new leaves will make the tree green again in the spring.

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