Live Oak Trail
Trails within the Arboretum are graded easiest, moderate, and more difficult based on terrain and length.
Trail Grade: Moderate
This 0.5-mile trail is home to the National Champion Loblolly Bay and several beautiful oaks that are a hundred years old or more. Winding through rolling terrain, this trail traverses a pine flatwoods and dry prairie flatwoods habitat. In the spring, native blueberries and native Florida azaleas may be in bloom in this area. The world champion loblolly bay is also located in the woods about 15 yards from the east side of this trail. This trail connects to the Lake Loop and Rosemary Ridge trails.
Points of Interest
Live Oak Tree
Nothing exemplifies “The South” like a large live oak (Quercus virginiana) dripping with Spanish moss. The name live oak comes from the fact that evergreen oaks remain green (or alive) throughout winter, while many other oaks are dormant, leafless and dead looking. Live oaks are briefly leafless in the springtime when the new leaf buds push off the old leaves. The largest live oak at the Arboretum is more than 125 years old. The oldest living Southern live oak is believed to be approximately 1,200 years old, so the tree at the Arboretum has a long life ahead of it. What will the Arboretum look like when this tree is 1,200 years old? Each year these large live oaks produce over 2,000 acorns each, but only one in 10,000 will ever grow up to be a tree. The others will provide food for all sorts of wildlife. The USS Constitution earned the name Old Ironsides from the strength of its hull made of live oak wood. The strong wood repeatedly repelled British cannonballs, bouncing them off the hull of the American frigate.
Originally, native long leaf, slash and pond pines occupied most of North Florida. Under these old pine forests were vast areas of grasslands. Due to frequent summer lightning storms, hardwoods were primarily restricted to wetlands, which were less prone to fires. Today, due to development and fire suppression, few of the native flatwood habitats exist, and the ones that do have understories of hardwoods, mixed with scrubs and vines. Because of their proximity to residential areas, the flatwoods at the Arboretum would be difficult to maintain with control burns. Instead, we are using a flail mower to remove accumulated dead vegetation and reproduce a condition similar to the condition that would have been produced by a natural fire. We will continue to monitor this area and to encourage a more natural flatwood habitat.
Native Honeysuckle Azalea
Also called Pinxter Azalea [Rhododendron canescens]. This leggy, medium to large deciduous shrub has been found growing naturally in three places in the Arboretum. One stand is located along the eastern portion of the Live Oak Trail, and the other two stands are located on the eastern portion of the Rosemary Ridge Trail. The flowers are showy, fragrant and can be white or pink with red or pink tingeing. This is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring. Look for the blooms in mid-March.
Honeysuckle Azaleas are very picky about where they grow. This “Goldilocks” of the plant world prefers sloping terrain in a narrow band of uniformly moist soil lying between the drier upland and the lower wetland soils. Wild azaleas grow in the same plant zone, as the loblolly bay trees, where it is “just right.”