The Mighty Southern Live Oak Tree

The live oak in the front yard of Frampton Plantation is estimated to be around 300 years old. Photo by Lowcountry Tourism Commission.

When you think of the south, you conjure images of the mighty live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. These magnificent trees stand sentry around homes and lead the way down country lanes. The specimens that surround Frampton Plantation House have been around for 300 years. In fact, it was noted that after the original house was burned during the Civil War, the home was rebuilt in a different spot between four live oaks. All four trees are still alive and thriving today. In fact, these very trees have been reaching for the sun since c.1743.

Picnic under the southern live oaks in the backyard of Frampton Plantation Visitors Center. We’re conveniently located off I-95, at Exit 33 in Yemassee. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Live Oak trees are always up for company. Along the southern coast, live oaks live life beside Spanish moss and resurrection fern. Neither plant causes harm, they both feed from humidity and air. Resurrection fern grows along the tops of branches, turning green during rain and humidity, then brown when the air is dry. Spanish moss drapes gracefully from branches, feeding from water and nutrients found in the air.

Live oak branches tend to grow horizontally, dipping down then reaching back up toward the sun. This Tomotley Plantation tree is no exception. Photo by CJ Brown.

The branches of southern live oaks tend to grow horizontally, spreading across the landscape. Being a product of the south, I can attest to the fact that they make great climbing trees. If you were lucky enough to grow up with a live oak in your yard, there were always hordes of kids who wanted to climb, swing or picnic in the shade of these magnificent trees.  

Spanish moss and live oaks make a perfect backdrop for a Lowcountry wedding. Cotton Hall Plantation is available for just such an occasion. Photo by Cotton Hall.

Live oaks can grow to a height of 80 feet high. Given the room to grow, they can spread 100 feet wide. They grow at a rate of 13 – 24 inches per year. They grow in sun and shade and will thrive in just about any kind of soil. They can be found along the beach, deep in the forest, and everywhere in between. Mature live oaks can have a diameter of 6 feet. Some of the oldest live oaks are estimated to be several hundred to more than a thousand years old.

This 300 year old live oak stands watch in front of the Frampton Plantation house. Photo by Lowcountry Tourism Commission.

Southern live oak trees are nearly evergreen. They replace their leaves sporadically, so we never notice their shedding process. They produce sweet acorns that are a favorite food source of both birds and mammals. Wild turkey and deer are especially fond of this delicacy.

While live oaks can be found from Virginia to Florida and as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, the Southern live oak grows best in salty soils along the coast. Like most southerners, this tree is particularly fond of warm temperatures and salty breezes.

This lovely home on Hampton Street in Walterboro has a yard complete with a live oak. Photo by Lowcountry Tourism Commission.

The wood from southern live oaks is very dense and strong. It was once a preferred wood for shipbuilding. The naval vessel USS Constitution was made from the wood of live oaks. Repeated cannon fire could not destroy the ship during the War of 1812. The British cannons literally bounced off the live oak hull of the ship. The ship was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” after it survived the attack. Many older homes are floored with wood from these magnificent trees. Oak flooring is durable and takes on a golden hue with age and wear.  Structural beams and posts were also made from the strong wood of live oaks.

Live oak alleys can be seen throughout the Lowcountry. Some of the most popular can be found on Edisto Island and Lady’s Island, Beaufort. Many older plantation properties are distinguished by their alley of live oaks. Planted on both sides of lanes, the branches reach across and form a canopy across the roadways. Old Sheldon Road is a wonderful example of a live oak canopy. Nestled between Yemassee and Beaufort, this road leads to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.

Old Sheldon road connects with Cotton Hall Road. This canopied road is home to several plantation entrances with live oak alleys. Both Tomotley and Cotton Hall Plantation entrances are visible. Yemassee’s McPhersonville Road is another great place to view a canopy.

Iconic oak alleys can be found on the route to Edisto Beach. ACE Basin and Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Areas both have canopied entrances. They can be accessed via Highway 174.

Most of Bluffton’s Hwy 46 is covered in a live oak canopy. Pinckney Colony is lined with aged oaks as well.

The Beaufort Sea Islands are also great places to spend the day driving under the oaks. Coffin Point, Meridian and Lands End Road are good examples.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and Hwy 17 just south of Ridgeland are good spots in Jasper County to view the trees. Colleton County’s Donnelley Wildlife Management Area is another great place to drive through and see live oaks. Hampton County’s Webb Wildlife Management Area also has many examples of southern live oaks.

Resurrection fern is best seen after a good rain. This live oak can be found in the backyard of Frampton Plantation Visitors Center in Yemassee. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.
Resurrection fern and Spanish moss intermingle along the branches of this southern live oak tree that can be found in the front yard of Frampton Plantation Visitors Center. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

See what our visitors love about the
SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY

Use the #hashtag #sclowcountry to get your image featured!

The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

#southcarolinaliving #southcarolina #edistobeach #edistosc #southcarolinanature #bestofthepalmettostate #onlyinsouthcarolina #treesofinstagram #treeporn #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #southcarolinabeaches #charleston #charlestonsc #ig_naturelovers #ig_southcarolina #viewsofthesouth #charlestonlife
Beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry
•
Thanks for the tag 📸exodusfoto
•
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #spanishmoss #sunrisesunset
The shore gently recedes beneath the stunning Pawleys Island Pier. The unique island town, located about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 70 miles north of Charleston, exudes laid-back, beachy vibes. Locals have definitely adopted an island state of mind and encourage visitors to as well. When you go, make sure to relax on the beach, explore the famous sand dunes, or fish in one of the many adjacent creeks.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: We guarantee that you’re going to want to spend a whole day here. We recommend getting to the beach at around 10am.🗓️ Best time of the year: Pawleys Island has the best weather during the spring and early summer months.🏖️ Things to do while there: Pawleys Island Nature Park, Pawleys Island Chapel, Hopsewee Plantation.🐠 Things to visit in the area: Brookgreen Gardens (brookgreen_gardens), take a walking ghost tour, Myrtle Beach (mymyrtlebeach), Harborwalk Marina, South Carolina Maritime Museum (southcarolinamaritimemuseum).🏨 Where to stay: The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn (oceanfrontlitchfieldinn), Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort (litchfieldbeachandgolf), Sea View Inn (seaviewinn), 620 Prince (620prince).Photo by qcphotographer
On the easel today. 36x36, on on canvas.  hortonhayesfineart markkelvinhortonstudio hortonhayesfineartstudio #acebasin #greenpondsc #scdnr #donnallywildlifearea #charlestonsc #charlestonartist #sclowcountry #lowcountry #sky #skypainters #landscapepainting #oilpainting
South Carolina Lowcountry
•
📸sarah_snydacker
•
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #sunrisesunset #charleston
Spanish moss drapes the live oak trees that are ubiquitous to the Edisto Island area. Did you know that Edisto gets its name from the native Edistow people? The Edistow Native Americans were a sub tribe of the Cusabo indians, a group of Native Americans who lived along the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: Stop by mid-morning. That way you can explore the island, grab lunch, and stay for the amazing sunset if you choose.🏖️ Things to do while there: Edisto Environmental Learning Center, Boneyard Beach, Scott Creek Inlet, Big Bay Creek, SeaCow Eatery.☀️ Things to visit in the area: Jungle Road Park, Bay Creek Park, Otter Islands, Spanish Mount Point.📆 Best time of the year to visit: For warmer weather come anywhere from March-August.🏨 Where to stay: Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort (frippislandrsrt), Seabrook Island Club (seabrook_sc), The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (kiawahresort), Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn (andellinn).Photo by qcphotographer
Headed down the road....Edisto Island.  #edisto #sclowcountry #trees #endofday  #beauty #islandsofsc
South Carolina lowcountry
•
📸jonpuckett
•
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #spanishmoss #sunrisesunset #charleston
A visitor takes a leisurely stroke under a canopy of live oaks draped with Spanish moss in the Palmetto Bluff (palmettobluff) neighborhood of Bluffton, South Carolina. Palmetto Bluff is a picturesque community that sits in the heart of Lowcountry. Nestled along the May River, it’s abundant with beautiful walking trails, historic sites, and stunning views.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: There is no wrong time to visit Palmetto Bluff. However, we highly recommend sticking around for one of their spectacular sunsets.🛶 Things to do while there: Stop by Cole’s for some regionally inspired Southern fare, paddle board, kayak, or canoe along the May River, go saltwater fishing, take a tour at Bluffton Jack's Old Town Tours.🌊 Things to visit in the area: Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, Old Town Bluffton, Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, May River Sandbar, Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center (heywardhouse).📆 Best time of the year to visit: For the best weather, we recommend visiting between March and May or from September to November.🏨 Where to stay: The Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort (montagepalmettobluff) is the only resort in Palmetto Bluff. However, there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding areas including: Old Town Bluffton Inn (oldtownblufftoninn), The Inn & Club at Harbour Town (theinnandclubatharbourtown), Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (sonestahhi).Photo by jpgriceoz
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
•
Thanks for the tag 📸trbtbone
•
#magnoliaplantation #southcarolina #southernliving #southernview #southernlife #sclowcountry #scenicviews #charlestonlife #charlestonliving #charlestonsc #coastalsouthcarolina #coastaliving #lifeonthecoast #lifeincharleston #spanishmoss #explorethecoast #exploretheoutdoors #godscreation #getoutside
Discover at your own leisure at the coastaldiscoverymuseum 🌳  From century-old buildings with storied pasts, to wooden boardwalks that stretch into the Jarvis Creek salt marsh, there's always something to explore!
Built by the Works Progress Administration, Colleton State Park is a 35 acre oasis along the Edisto River. The US government donated it to South Carolina in 1944.📸: colletoncounty.org#thatsmylowcountry #naturallyamazing #sclowcountry #colletonstatepark #colletoncountysc #exploresc #exploresouthcarolina
No filter & it was so beautiful I didn't want to make it fit Instagram! #pawleysislandsc #onlypawleys #pawleys #arrogantlyshabby #eastcoast #coastalcarolina #sclowcountry #lowcountry #borntobeach #somebeachsomewhere #peaceloveandsandyfeet #inmymindimgonetocarolina
Reposted from coastaldiscoverymuseum Hilton Head Island has the second highest tidal range on the East Coast, second only to Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The average tidal range here is 7-9 feet between high and low tides.The Salt Marsh is one of our area’s most prominent features, not to mention an essential resource. Most coastal creatures depend partially or even fully on the Salt Marsh for survival as it serves as a nursery, as well as a water filter vital for the functioning of the entire coastal ecosystem.Explore the Lowcountry up close with a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum and head out into the marsh via the Osprey Outlook floating dock on a self-guided tour or register for the weekly Salt Marsh Discovery program to learn from an expert how and why this particular environment is so important. (843) 689-6767 ext. 223 or coastaldiscovery.org.
.
.
.
.
.
#coastaldiscoverymuseum #honeyhorn #hiltonheadisland #saltmarshsaturday #hightide #lowtide #saltmarsh #ospreyoutlook #boardwalk #floatingdock #ecosystem #exploremore #familyfun #familyadventures #communitymuseum #smithsonianaffiliate #sclowcountry #lowcountrylife #visithiltonhead #discoversc
“Squall”, 30x40, oil on canvas. hortonhayesfineart markkelvinhortonstudio hortonhayesfineartstudio #charlestonsc #charlestonartist #lowcountry #sclowcountry #marsh #marshpaintings #marshpainter #sky #skypainters #skypaintings #tonalism #tonal #tonalpainting #classicalrealismpainting #gamblinoils #princetonbrushes #oilpaintings #stormclouds #stormpainting #art_dailydose #art_daily #southcarolina
South Carolina’s lowcountry scenes are beautiful and calming.
.
#bestofthepalmettostate #onlyinsouthcarolina #southcarolinaliving #discover_carolinas #discover_southcarolina #egret #egretinflight #murrelsinlet #murrelsinletsc #murrelsinletmarshwalk #sylviefsmith #saltmarsh #sclowcountry #visitsouthcarolina #sccoast #hammockcoastsc #viewsofthesouth

The South Carolina Lowcountry Guidebook is filled with many things to see and do in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina. Please fill out the information and we will send you a FREE GUIDE BOOK.


    Stay Up To Date

    Sign up for our newsletter!