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How to Age a Live Oak Tree

Updated February 08, 2019

A live oak (Quercus virginiana) is the sumo wrestler of the oak world. Its short massive trunk branches widely into mighty branches that seem to rest their elbows on the ground. Picturesque and impressive, live oaks grow up to 80 feet tall, with a branch spread equal to or greater that the height. Many people mistake live oak for evergreens, since they hold their dark, waxy leaves all winter and lose them only as new leaves emerge in the spring. The tree is native to the coastal plains of the East Coast.

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  1. Mark a spot on the tree about 4 to 5 feet from the ground by leaning a stick up against it. If the tree burls in that area -- if it becomes bulbous -- find a spot above or below the swell where the tree trunk returns to its normal lines.

  2. Measure the circumference of the tree trunk at that spot. Be sure the tape measure runs evenly around the tree and does not lift up on one side or the other, which would give a false reading.

  3. Calculate the diameter of the tree. Use your calculator to divide the circumference measurement, expressed in inches, by pi: 3.1416.

  4. Use the following formula to figure out the age. The first 10 inches in diameter indicate an age of 76 years. Each inch after that adds six-and-a-half years up to age 154. After that, each inch adds six years.

  5. Tip

    This huge tree is a favourite shade tree in the South. Although fairly drought resistant in the short term, it requires significant quantities of water to thrive.


    Live oak often get oak wilt. If oak wilt is a problem in your area, treat your tree's surface wounds and take care to prevent damaging the roots.

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Things You'll Need

  • 20 foot soft measuring tape
  • Calculator

About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.

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