Many say, if trees could talk, imagine the stories the Southern Live Oaks could tell. These majestic trees are considered an emblem of the south because they flourish along the coastal plains where the first settlers lived. Their natural beauty is in their wide stretching branches draped with Spanish Moss. The 40-80 foot tall trees provide the perfect place for climbing, book reading or picnicking. Known as the state tree of Georgia, Live Oaks thrive in coastal soils. The term live refers to the fact the evergreen oaks do not go into dormancy in the winter months as with other oak varieties but instead stay green. They shed their leaves once a year but only after new leaves have formed. The leather-like leaves are tough and resistant to salt spray and the roots of the tree can withstand storm surge. Its wood is ideal for shipbuilding because it is so strong and heavy.
The graceful trees are a welcome addition to the sometimes oppressive southern heat as they provide great shade with limbs that can stretch up to 120 feet wide. Surprisingly, the hardy trees can live for several hundred years. The wide stretching canopy provides shelter to various birds, reptiles and mammals. Without their ecosystems, most maritime forests would not exist. The silver-grey moss that hangs on the branches creates a haunting look at night while filtering sunshine in the day, setting the trees aglow.
Visitors coming to the coastal areas of the south are awe struck by these magnificent trees that have been featured in films such as Forrest Gump, filmed in Beaufort, SC. Seeing them up close is part of the experience of southern living. No Lowcountry tour would be complete without a stop to see the Live Oaks. A coastal tree tour will acquaint you with some Lowcountry oaks with well-known history, scattered around the coastal empire and only a short drive from Hilton Head Island.
CANDLER OAK on Drayton and E. Gaston St. Savannah, Ga is thought to be one of the oldest living landmarks in the area.
ANGEL OAK, 3688 Angel Oak Rd. John’s Island is located just outside Charleston, SC. It is rumored to be 1500 years old.
MIDDLETON located northwest of Charleston at Middleton Place is part of one of the oldest gardens in the country,
WORMSLOE historic site in Isle of Hope is home to an avenue of oaks. The state run park is picturesque and rich in history.
AVENUE OF OAKS 100 Retreat Avenue at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island was the longtime entrance to Retreat Plantation filled with flower gardens and long known for its production of sea island cotton.
DRIFTWOOD BEACH & LIVE OAK GROVES located on Jekyll Island, Ga. requires a $6 park fee but gives visitors a peek at the undeveloped live oak groves.
COLLETON RIVER PLANTATION in Bluffton, SC. is a private golf community known for its’ 4- mile scenic drive through tidal creeks and street lined live oaks.
OLDFIELD in Okatie, SC is a community set along the banks of the Okatie River under a canopy of live oaks.