Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Dwarf Live Oak - Quercus minima   (Sargent) Small
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Section 6 » Order Fagales » Family Fagaceae
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Author(Sargent) Small
DistributionRestricted to the southeastern corner of the state, from Carteret County southward. Known only from Carteret, Bladen, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties, though the BONAP map adds Columbus County.

This species is limited to the lower Coastal Plain only, ranging from southeastern NC to southern FL, and west to LA. It is absent from most of the upper half of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains.
AbundanceVery rare and easily overlooked, in its range in the state. This is a State Significantly Rare species.
HabitatThe species is limited in the state mainly to Coastal Fringe Sandhills, near the coast. One site is in a sandy powerline clearing, and a second in a recent clearcut in sandy soil.
See also Habitat Account for Xeric-Mesic, Sandy Woodlands and Scrub
PhenologyFlowers in April, and fruits from September to November of the same year.
IdentificationThis is a poorly known (in NC) clonal, evergreen shrub, typically only 1-3 feet tall. The leaves are quite thick, and glossy above, being somewhat rectangular in shape, to about 2-3 inches long and about 1-inch wide. They have a few small teeth along the margins, mainly limited to the end of the leaf. In some aspects, the leaves look a bit like narrow American Holly (Ilex opaca) leaves. It is important to note that seedling Live Oak (Q. virginiana) and Sand Live Oak (Q. geminata) may have similar leaves. These species would not show acorns at 1-3 feet in height, as would Dwarf Live Oak. Because acorns are often not visible on Sand Live Oak (at least until fall), you may need to identify the species by its clonal habit –- many evenly-aged plants covering a handful of square meters. This species was not discovered in NC until the last decade or two of the 20th Century, and thus it does not appear in RAB (1968); most experienced biologists have never seen it, at least in NC.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Minimal Oak
State RankS1 *
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-P
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