Uniquely Georgia Trees
Among Georgia’s 200 native trees, a few are truly unique to the state. They grow fromthe flanks of Lookout Mountain to the banks of King’s Bay, signifying power, thestate’s founding, tenacious survival and even a myth. Live oak gave wooden ships their strength and shape. Our first forest reserves werenaval live oak areas. The tree is characterized by large trunks and massive branchesspreading over the landscape, draped in Spanish moss. Franklinia is a small tree with dainty arching twigs and an unusual thin, striped bark.Its flowers are relatively large, cream-colored and shaped like a cup. Some suggest itwas actually part of old, lost English tea plantation plots. Live oak should need no introduction to any Georgia citizen. It’s not unique toGeorgia, but it’s our state tree. Live oaks grow on the coastal plain but can beoccasionally found in frost-protected plantings farther north. The nursery trade carries many forms of the tree, especially in Europe. Unfortunately,in Georgia and the United States it is listed as extinct. Georgia oak is a smallish, smooth-barked tree that ekes out a living on graniteoutcrops. This harsh life has made Georgia oak tough and stress-tolerant. The beautifullittle oak has bright, shiny green leaves like a dwarf red oak. This rare tree wasn’t even discovered until this century. Oglethorpe oak has beautifuland strange, five-pointed, yellow hairs on the undersides of its leaves. The tree is quiteupright with long, oval leaves and distinct whitish, platy bark. If you want to plant some trees that symbolize the best and diversity of Georgia, fivenative trees fit the bill. They include the Georgia hackberry (Celtic tenuifolia),franklinia (Frankliniana altamaha), Georgia oak (Quercus georgiana), Oglethorpe oak(Quercus oglethorpensis) and live oak (Quercus virginiana). Oglethorpe oak is named after Oglethorpe County, where it was first found, and thefounder of Georgia, James Oglethorpe. This oak is one of the few that suffer from adisease similar to chestnut blight. But a number of trees reach medium and large staturewithout signs of the disease. Georgia oaks have nice fall color, are drought-tolerant and produce a small acornwildlife love. They’re found only on a few granite outcrops in the state. The franklinia tree, of the tea family, was growing in a small area near the mouth ofthe Altamaha River when Georgia was being settled. Since that early discovery, no onehas seen this tree in the wild. Plant a uniquely Georgia tree grove. Use native trees from your county or theseGeorgia heritage trees. Grow a piece of Georgia forest history. Georgia hackberry is a small tree in the elm family. Unlike most of its relatives,Georgia hackberry has smooth leaf margins, or just a few teeth. It’s naturally found ondry, rocky sites across central Georgia. The crown of leaves the tree produces isusually asymmetrical and irregular.