How does Live Oak root system grow?

jlosc(9)April 2, 2007

Hi, I want to plant 2 live oaks, but I'm concerned how the root system grows.

Does the root system grow 'spread out' OR does the root system grow straight down in the ground?


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Live oak roots spread considerably, but they are not at the surface like a maple (for example). I can't think of any trees where the roots grow straight down. Some trees like longleaf pine and hickory, will have massive taproots, but will eventually form large lateral roots as well.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:23AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The roots are very shallow and very widespread (if given the opportunity).

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:49AM
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Florida has enough live oaks for now.. plant something else. Any other kind of oak like turkey oak, shumard oak, water oak.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:17AM
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For what reason are you concerned about the roots? Pipes, walkway, driveway, etc.? I agree with Quirky, we are beginning to see Live oak overkill here in south AL as well. If you want a deep rooted tree I recommend Pignut Hickory or Mockernut Hickory, they're FL natives that have vivid yellow fall color.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 12:04PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Monterrey oak.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 3:22PM
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THANKS for all of your replies. The reason I was thinking of planting live oak was because it's native to FL and I wanted shade for house.

I will look into the other ideas you have given me, i.e., monterrey oak, Pignut Hickory and Mockernut Hickory.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:08AM
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The oaks I mentioned are all native to Florida too.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:00AM
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I recently transplanted two live oaks, one about six feet tall, the other around ten feet tall. They each had a tap root. I think from looking at live oaks uprooted by hurricanes that the tap root becomes less important to a live oak as it matures.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 2:11PM
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That's correct.

That's why they're not too well anchored in saturated soil

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 4:38PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Excellent illustration of how most roots are at the surface, where the air is. Even on coarse sandy soils like in the above picture if there is a high water table the roots will be deflected like a bullet hitting a metal plate. Tap-rooted trees on soils that permit the deep penetration of the tap root will still have most other roots in the upper layers.

The common idea of some trees having surface roots that cause problems is probably based on those kinds or those situations where large roots emerge from the ground in time. A better term might be trees with emergent roots. Not sure how much this is due to how the particular type of tree grows and how often it is a result of site conditions, including the tree simply being big and old (as when large roots grow above grass near the base of the tree).

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 5:12PM
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Hi! Please help. I have an oak tree that comes right through the middle of my deck (deck was built around it)and an in-ground pool that is approximately 12 feet away from it. I have to imagine that the previous owner considered the damage that could be done to the pool by the growing roots. It's a mature tree and I would hate to have it cut down but will do so if it prevents thousands of dollars worth of damage. What should I do? Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 11:18AM
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How mature is the tree and how long ago was the pool put in?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 5:55PM
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We have an approximate 70 yr. old Texas Live Oak Tree that has foliage damage due to possible aerial cotton defoliant. Also, half of tree has concrete around it and we are in a serious drought. We have dug up concrete around the drip-line of the tree to the clay soil and watering constantly. What are our chances of recovery? What is the correct way to and when to cover the trench dug around the drip-line? We can't loose this tree!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:17AM
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