Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:22 pm
by addy
In the Tosohatchee WMA in Orange County Florida there are substantial tracts of hydric hammock that show little to no evidence of logging and I think likely have an undisturbed forest structure that could go back thousands of years or even as far as the beginning of the holocene. Live Oaks often dominate this habitat and I've measured a dozen or so of the larger diameter ones I've found. None I've found so far are over 5.2' DBH and they all are much more wide than tall and aren't as tall as other surrounding species. Many of them have substantial sections that near completely horizontal. This agrees well with Bartram's observations. Not that I don't still dream of finding something like the colossal Lake Griffin Oak hidden away somewhere out there.

Also, northwest of the Tosohatchee is a 5.8' DBH Live Oak noted (presumably by the state DOF when they measured it) for being unusually straight and tall:

https://www.monumentaltrees.com/en/usa/ ... statepark/

There's a good chance this oak however grew up with its surroundings largely cleared since the area it inhabits was subjected to forest leveling overhead skid logging for cypress sometime in the early 1900s. Literature states that under ideal conditions Live Oaks can reach 4'-6' DBH in as little as 75 years, so it's quite possible this oak is rather young and grew up in very unnatural conditions. I think it likely when they grow up under heavy forest cover the spreading habit is maximized because they're far superior than most trees at searching laterally for light, while height growth is relatively weak.