City Trees

September/October 2023

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 39 of 39

40 CityTREES of hurricanes commonly affecting the southern states of the U.S. The same widespread roots that anchor the tree can also, unfortunately, lift sidewalks, curbs, and driveways in urban and residential settings if there is inadequate soil volume for the roots. A young live oak tree can grow fast and needs struc- tural pruning to establish proper trunk and branch structure that will benefit the tree in its later years. Live oak can reach its maximum trunk diameter within 70 years before its growth rate slows. Mature live oak trees bear small, yellow-green catkins that can create seasonal discomfort for allergy sufferers. We like to say that "it doesn't snow in the South, it pollens," and male live oak flowers (catkins) are one of the major culprits. However, the acorns they help create are favored by wildlife such as birds, wild turkeys, squirrels, black bears, and deer. Southern live oak is usually pest- and disease-free, although stressed trees are more susceptible to boring insects, mites, aphids, fungi, mildew, and cankers. Here in Louisiana, most of these have minor landscape impacts. Oak wilt is not currently present here in Louisiana; however, oak wilt has wreaked havoc on live oaks in parts of neighboring Texas. Live oak has been historically regarded for its strong wood. So much so that the U.S. Navy used to maintain live oak forests for wood produc- tion. The naval frigate USS Constitution was built using live oak lumber for the hull and received the name "Old Ironsides" after the vessel sur- vived repeated cannonball shots from British warships during the War of 1812. Though the wood is no longer used for such purposes, what a special history for such a special tree! Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) on the Old State Capitol grounds in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo by Brittany Benjamin, June 2023

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