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The Major Oak - English Oak - Quercus Robur

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)" target="_blank">

Turkey Oak - Quercus laevis

Posted on November 17, 2017 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The Turkey Oak - Quercus laevis is most easily identified by the small stature in combination with it's twisted petioles, some leaves that are tri-lobed almost resembling a turkey footprint and dry sandy habitat. It is a small deciduous that grows in a typically upright fashion with a narrow crown. It is native to deep, well drained sandy ridges and sunny hammocks. The trees growth range is limited to only Virginia to Louisiana and Florida. The Turkey Oak covers over 9-10 million acres of land in Florida. It is very similar in appearance to the Southern Red Oak.


The bark is dark gray to nearly black in color with vertical ridges. The leaves are alternate and simply shaped, broadly elliptic, with 3-7 lobes each. Upper surface lustrous yellow-green, hairless, lower surface varies from pale green to a rust color. In the fall the leaves become scarlet-red or almost brown in color. Named for some of the tri-lobed leaves that resemble a Turkey foot.


The Turkey Oak is not commercially grown as it is not important because of it's size, but it is close grained, hard and heavy. It is recommended for hardiness zones 6-9. The wood is considered excellent fuel and is used very widely as firewood. The bark and twigs contain valuable materials for tanning leather.


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The Swamp White Oak - Quercus bicolor

Posted on August 11, 2017 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The Swamp White Oak - Quercus bicolor is an attractive deciduous shade tree. Even though it is named Swamp White Oak and is similar to the White Oaks, it is actually a member of the Chestnut Oak family. It has beautiful fall coloring that ranges from Orange, Gold and Yellow in mid-Autumn. With a broad open crown, rounded form and a short trunk it makes for a sturdy medium sized shade tree. It is considered one of the easiest Oaks to transplant and is tolerant to salt, drought, heat and poor drainage. It has good visual interest in Mid Winter, Early Summer and Fall.

Image Citation: T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University,

The leaves are lobed and have an almost two toned appearance, during the early growing season they are a dark green on top and a silvery white on the underside becoming green all over by the summer months. The leaves grow alternately and are coarsely toothed/lobed with variable margins. The bark is a pale grey with networks of thick coarse blackish grey ridges, becoming a dark grey when mature. The acorns are 1 inch long and enclosed in a warty cap, this cap often remains attached to the stalk once the fruit is ripe and falls from the tree.

Image Citations (Above Photos Left: Leaves & Right: Acorns) : Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

It is recommended for zones 4-8 and is available at limited nurseries in it's growth zone. Be wary of soils with high pH as this tree does show signs of chlorosis (yellowing) with high pH.


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The Shumard Oak / Buckley Oak

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The Shumard Oak / Buckley Oak - Quercus shumardii, is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 120 feet tall in ideal growing conditions. It grows in an erect form with a single trunk that is sometimes fluted or buttressed near the base. Generally the Shumard Oak is high branching with the trunk remaining branchless until the canopy. The crown is open and spreading with ascending and broad spreading branch habit.




Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


It is most easily identified by a combination of deeply cut leaves, hairless terminal buds and a shallow acorn nut that encloses less than 1/3 of the nut. The bark is pale gray in color, smooth when young, becoming finely ridged and deeply furrowed with age. The twigs are gray or light brown in color, slender in form and hairless. Terminal buds are generally egg shaped and range in size from 4-8 mm long. The leaves are alternate, simple in form, elliptic or obvate with a wide angled flattened base. Upper leaf surface is a pale yellow-green color, lustrous, hairless, the lower surface is similar in color to the upper. The leaves turn brownish with small purple spots in Autumn. The leaf blades 7-20 cm long and 6-15 cm broad. The fruit is in the form of an acorn with a cup 7-12 mm deep, enclosing 1/3 or less of the light brown nut.





Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


The Shumard Oak is among one of the largest Red Oaks in the Southeastern United States. Under ideal conditions they are fast growing, tolerant of harsh and dry conditions and varying soils. It is considered a poplar landscape tree in the South and is used frequently in medians, parking lots, roadsides and larger suburban lawns. In natural settings it does not form pure stands but instead occurs induvidually within the forest canopy, it is often found growing along side American Elm, Winged Elm, Green Ash, White Ash, Cherrybark Oak, Southern Red Oak, Water Oak and White Oak.




Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.),



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The Bear Oak-Quercus ilicifolia

Posted on June 8, 2017 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Bear Oak-Quercus ilicifolia is a small deciduous tree that is most easily identified by it's love of rocky habitat and leaves with a hairy lower surface. It grows in a small tree or gangly shrub form with a densely rounded crown. It does not exceed 40 feet tall but only averages around 15-20 feet tall and generally has one or more short contorted trunks.



Range map/Image Citation: By Elbert L. Little, Jr., USGS - USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center: Digital Representations of Tree Species Range Maps from "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. (and other publications), Public Domain,


The leaves are Alternate, simple, ovate or elliptic with a wedge shaped base and shallow margins. The upper leaf surface is dark green and slightly lustrous while the lowers are paler and visibly hairy. The fall leaf coloring starts as a yellow green but changes to a lovely yellow with the season. The fruit is an acorn, with a cup that is 10-17 mm deep enclosing 1/4 to 1/2 of the nut. The nut of the acorn is egg shaped with very faint vertical striping. Acorns are often produced in large abundant crops, probably as a result of the harsh conditions that the tree grows in. Bear Oak is monoecious, with both male and female flowers being found on the same plant. Male flowers are catkins and female flowers are borne in clusters or singly, the female flowers are produced on current-year's growth



Image Citation: Will Cook, Carolina published 2010-


The Bear Oak is native to the North Eastern United States and can be found from Ontario to Main in the North and West Virginia to Virginia in the South. Bear Oak can be found growing in CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, VT, VA, and WV. It prefers dry soils, mountainous terrain and rocky outcroppings. Individual above ground trunks or stems of the Bear Oak are not long living. Maturing to only about 20 years of age, they arise from one single long lived taproot that can be as thick as 20 cm in diameter and reach as deep down in the ground as 3 feet. The Bear Oak is adapt to hybridizing with various members of the Red Oak family. The Bear Oak species is considered threatened in North Carolina and is on the Endangered list in Vermont.


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The Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima

Posted on April 28, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (13)

The Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima is most easily recognized by it's fringed acorn cup and narrow leave with bristle tipped teeth, resembling the teeth of a saw. It is a fast growing, deciduous shade tree that can reach heights of 30- 70 feet tall. Sawtooth Oak grows in an erect fashion with a single trunk and dense rounded crown. Originally introduced from Asia, generally found in planned landscapes and is reported to be naturalized in scattered areas from Pennsylvania South to North Carolina and Georgia, South to Louisiana. Sawtooth Oak is primarily planted for wildlife cover and food due to it's abundant fruit and fast growth habit. This species is sometimes used for urban and highway beautification as it is tolerant of soil compaction, air pollution, and drought.






Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Richard Gardner, UMES,


Named for it's unique leaf edges, the Sawtooth Oak is a beautiful tree. The green leaves are alternate, simple, oblong or obvate, 12-16 pairs of sharp bristle tipped teeth, parallel veins and a lustrous upper surface and dull pale underside. The leaves add to the visual interest by beginning a brilliant yellow to golden yellow color in the Spring, turning dark lustrous green in summer and yellow to golden brown in the fall. The bark is dark gray in color with light gray scales that become deeply furrowed with age. The fruit is in the form of an acorn, the cup encloses 1/3 - 2/3 of the 1-2.5 cm nut. The acorn rim is adorned with long spreading hairlike scales that form a distinctive fringe.



Recommended for hardiness zones 5-9, the Sawtooth Oak can be found at most larger nurseries within those zones. Sawtooth Oak is also considered to be easily transplanted and hardy making it a wise choice for any landscape with room for a large spreading shade tree. It is similar to the Chinquapin Oak Castanea pumila in appearance, distinguished primarily by the difference in fruit.


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Chapman Oak - Quercus chapmanii

Posted on April 13, 2017 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Chapman Oak - Quercus chapmanii, is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree that reach heights of up to 40 feet tall but usually only average about 30 feet. A member of the Fagaceae family, in the Genus Quercus. The crown of the Chapman Oak is most often spreading with contorted branches and oblong leaves with wavy margins. It is considered to have a xeric habit, meaning it does not require excessive or constant amounts of water to grow or favors a drought habitat. The Chapman Oak prefers Sandy dunes and pinelands and can be found growing from 0-100 m along coastal zones from The Carolinas Georgia and Florida (reported to be also established in Kansas)




Image Citation: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,


In appearance the Chapman Oak is similar to most other Oaks. The leaves are alternate, simply shaped, oblong or obovate, thick and leathery with wavy margins on the entire leaf, a dark green upper surface and paler dull lower surface. The fruit is in the form of an acorn with a shallow cup and deep nut, knobby scales and gray-yellow color. The bark is brown, scaly and flaking, similar to many White Oaks. The flower occurring in late winter or early spring is small in size and white-tan in color. Recommended for hardiness zones 8-10b, the Chapman Oak prefers full sun to partial shade and alkaline or acidic soil. Small mammals, butterflies and birds all feed on and/or use the Chapman Oak as shelter.


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The Blackjack Oak, Quercus marilandica

Posted on March 22, 2017 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (3)

The Blackjack Oak, Quercus marilandica - is a small to mid sized, scruffy tree that is found growing in dry areas and generally doe not reach heights of more then 15-50 feet tall. The tree develops an irregular shaped open crown full of crooked branches. Blackjack Oak is one of only a few Red Oaks that manufacture and store the substance called tyloses. Tylose seals it's vessels and makes the wood watertight. The Blackjack Oak remains small in size and is often considered to have knotty wood which prevents it from having any value as a commercially produced lumber.





Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


The leaves of the Blackjack Oak are tough and leathery, triangular in shape, 4-8 inches long and wide with three shallow and broad tipped lobes near the end of each rounded base. The bark is dark gray to almost black in color with some silver flaking on the surface, very rough on the surface with deep irregular fissures. There are one or two acorns on short stalks with reddish to brown colored caps in the shape of a top. The nut is elliptical 1/2 - 3/4 inches in diamter with a stout point.





Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University,


Blackjack Oak is native to the United States and can be found growing from Iowa east through New Jersey and New York, South through Florida and west to Texas and north to Nebraska. It is almost always found growing on dry, sandy or clay soil.


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Texas Red Oak - Quercus texana (Nuttall Oak)

Posted on March 17, 2017 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (2)

Texas Red Oak - Quercus texana, (also called the Nutall Oak) is a medium to large tree that grows to reach heights of 115 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. The Texas Red Oak has a swollen base and spreading, horizontal, slightly drooping branches. Texas Red Oak is commercially important in the floodplain areas of the Mississippi River, where it is harvested as Red Oak. Wildlife rely on the acorns of this species as a reliable source of food. Due to it's strength, ability to grow well in poor soil and nice appearance it is becoming a popular shade tree. It is native to floodplains, bottom land woods areas, and wet clay soils from 0-200 m. It is restricted in range mainly around the Mississippi River drainage basin from Alabama west through Eastern Texas, north to Southeastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.





Image Citation: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University,


The bark of young trees is light brown in color, thin and tight with slightly raised squiggly shaped plates that cup up at the edges. When sunlight reflects on this trees bark it reflects narrow silver streaks. The branches are noticeably long, straight and slender with the lowest ones slightly drooping down towards the ground. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate, elliptic or obovate, with a wide angled or flattened base, with 6-11 lobes, all lobes are sharp pointed and bristle tipped. The fruit is in the form of an acorn with a cup that is 10-16 mm deep, the outer surface is hairless or finely hairy. The cup of the acorn encloses 1/3-1/2 of the nut, the nut itself is broadly egg shaped or ellipsoid.




Image Citation: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University,



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The Laurel Oak (Darlington Oak) - Quercus hemisphaerica

Posted on March 10, 2017 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (4)

The Laurel Oak (Darlington Oak) - Quercus hemisphaerica, is a large semi-evergreen that can reach upwards of 80 feet tall. Due to it's semi-evergreen nature the tree slowly loses leaves throughout the winter months but still has some green leaves remaining in the Spring season when the new leaves begin to appear. The Laurel Oak is most often planted as an ornamental tree. Naturally the Laurel Oak is found growing in waterways and bottom lands where the ground remains moist . Although it prefers wet areas, it can still preform well in dry soils. Naturally the Laurel Oak is found growing along the Coastal Plain from Southeastern Virginia up the Mississippi River floodplain to Kentucky.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,



Even in the Winter season, the leaves are the fastest way to identify the tree. The leaves are narrow and long, 2-4 inches long and 1/2 to 1 inch wide and may be rounded or tapered before flaring out gently along the length of the blade. The rough bark pattern becomes smoother on the upper trunk and along the major limbs. Unlike most Oaks the leaves of the Laurel Oak easily break when bent. The acorn is 1/2 inch long and almost perfectly rounded, 1/4 of the nut is enclosed by a saucer shaped cup. Acorns take two full years to mature.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,




Very similar to the Diamondleaf Oak, although the leaves differ on the lower surfaces, vein axils and habitat. The Bluejack Oak is another similar species however their leaves have a blue or gray tint.


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Southern Red oak - Quercus falcata

Posted on March 6, 2017 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Southern Red Oak -Quercus falcata is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of around 100 feet but sometimes much larger. It grows in an erect, single trunk with initially a narrow crown that spreads with age. It is most easily recognized by it's U shaped based and extended sickle or strap like terminal lobe. It is native to the dry, sandy upland woods, pine lands and sandy loam soils from Delaware to Southern Missouri in the North and Northern Florida, Oklahoma and Eastern Texas in the South.


Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


The Southern Red Oaks leaves are alternate, simple, mostly ovate, with a rounded base, and 3-6 bristle tipped lobes, the terminal lobe generally being the longest. The upper surface is lustrous and dark green in color, the lower surface is a grayish or rusty color. In the fall the leaves turn brown to yellow in color. The fruit is an acorn with a shallow cup that encloses less then 1/3 of the acorn, the nut is an orange brown in color generally 1-1.5 cm long. The bark is dark gray in color mixing in with black with age, it is deeply furrowed, ridged, rough and scaly with blocked plates.


Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


The Southern Red Oak is often confused for the Cherrybark Oak and the Turkey Oak, neither have the Southern Red Oaks signature U shaped leaf base. The leaves of the Post Oak have a similar U shaped base, but the branches and lower leaf surfaces are visably different covered with a stellate grayish pubescence. The Southern Red Oak is one of the more common Southern Red Oaks and is often found growing wild in pastures, woodlands and along roadsides in the native range. It is not very tolerant to drought or low rainfall periods, the leaves when drought stressed turn brown in large patches. It is most commonly found growing in combination with Loblolly, Longleaf and Virginia Pines, Black, Blackjack and Post Oaks, Gums, and Hickories.


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The Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata, (also called Swamp Post Oak, Swamp White Oak, or Water White Oak) is a medium sized southern deciduous tree that does not generally reach heights of more then 60-90 on average. It grows in an erect form with a single trunk that is usually short in comparison to other Oaks. The tree generally has a symmetric form with slender, most times with dropping branches, crown of open grown trees are often have lateral branches that spread perpendicular to the trunk.



Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


The name Overcup Oak comes from the fact that the "cup" of each acorn almost completely covers each nut. The lumber from the Overcup Oak has little commercial value, primarily because of it's spiral grain, frequent knots and tendency to crack or split open during the drying process. The leaves are alternate, 6-8 inches long and 1-4 inches wide with deep sinuses and 5-9 rounded lobes. The leaf base usually tapers from a thin point to the widest lobes that occur around the midway point of each leaf.



Image Citation: Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,


Most commonly found growing in flooded low land areas, river bottoms or swamps. It grows best on wetter sites around the Coastal or Gulf Plains from Delaware in the North south from Florida to Eastern Texas and up the Mississippi River bottoms through Southeastern Missouri, Southern Illinois, Southwestern Indiana or Western Kentucky.


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Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (1)

The Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii, is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of only 40 feet on average but can grow as tall as 100 feet tall in it's ideal settings (well drained alluvial floodplains). Regardless of the overall height and site location the crown remains compact.




Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University,


The leaves of this tree range in size from 4-8 inches long. The leaf blades are leathery in textured and diamond shaped with the widest portions being located two third of the way to the tip of each leaf. Each leaf is coarsely toothed on all sides in a wavy fashion. The leaf surfaces are dark green and smooth while the bottom downy and paler in color. The bark patterns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak vary and can be tight with shallow parallel ridges/valleys or have long peeling side strips. The bark of the tree differs in color depending on the location, it is lighter gray in upland settings and dark gray in lowlands. The acorns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak are 1 inch long and light brown in color and sweet to the taste.




Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.),


It is very hard to differentiate between the Swamp Chestnut Oak, Chinkapin Oak and White Oak as they share many of the same characteristics. Swamp Chestnut Oak grows best in low lying bottomlands that periodically flood whereas the other two grow best in well drained soils.


The lumber from the Swamp Chestnut Oak is grouped with other White Oaks during lumber production. It can be used in almost any application from tools to furniture to baskets. The lumber has a very nice appearance and can be left natural in many applications.


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The "White Oak" - Quercus alba

Posted on February 21, 2017 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The "White Oak" - Quercus alba - is one of the most prominent and well recognized trees in our area. It is a long lived tree, with some recorded still living at 450 years. Maryland's famous Wye Oak (in Wye Mills, Maryland) was estimated to be over 450 years old when it was knocked down by a storm in 2002. The White Oak is the state tree of Maryland, Connecticut and Illinois, It's native range is from Quebec in the North, Minnesota in the West and Texas-Florida in the South. It is not a very tall tree, with an average height of 80-100 feet at maturity.



Wye Oak-Image Citation: Martin MacKenzie, USDA Forest Service,


The bark is a light grey color with very rigid and noticeable fissures. The leaves are green in color ranging from 5-8 inches in length, changing to a red-brown in the Autumn season. White Oaks will sometimes hold their dead brown leaves over winter, these leaves will fall out in the Spring with the new growth. The wood is pale brown in color, solid, heavy and durable. The acorns appear annually, they are cup shaped and are a shiny brown in color.




Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,


The White Oak is a food source for many forest animals. Deer and Rabbits will nibble on the twigs and sometimes dead leaves. The acorns are a favorite of Turkeys, Wood Ducks, Pheasants, Jays, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. The White Oak is also the only known food source for Bucculatrix luteella and Bucculatrix ochrisuffusa caterpillars.


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Sudden Oak Death - Phytophthora ramorum

Posted on November 22, 2016 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) - SOD (also known as Phytophthora canker disease), was originally identified in Germany and The Netherlands in the early 1990's on Rhododendrons . Since being discovered in the United States, it has been confirmed in forests from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The origin geographically of Phytophthora ramorum is unknown and before the early 1990's there were no reports in Europe or the United States. The areas that do exist in Europe and the United States are believe to have been originally transported from other areas or even the original site of origin. Phytophthora ramorum's very limited distribution related to the host's distribution suggests a more recent introduction versus a point of origin.


Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service,


Two types of disease are caused by Phytophthora ramorum, the first being bark cankers and the second being foliar blights. Bark cankers may eventually kill the host while foliar blights serve as a reservoir for the pathogen to remain within and be tranferred from the foliar host. The list of hosts (and foliar hosts) seems to grow with each new report and now includes Coast and Canyon Live Oak, Tanoak, California Black Oak, Coast Redwood, Douglas Fir, Rhododendron, Bay Laurel, California Buckeye, Madrone, Bigleaf Maple, Oregon Myrtle, Toyon, Honeysuckle, Arrowwood, Camellia, Californis Hazelnut, Mountain Laurel, Valley Oak, Poison Oak and Grand Fir. In lab testing it has been found that both Red and Pin Oaks are susceptible this opens up the potential for spread into the Eastern portions of the US as the Red Oak family is found in most of North America. In the field the White Oak family including the Valley, White and Blue Oaks have not been confirmed as hosts or even shown any symptoms- hopefully this means they are immune to Phytophthora ramorum or at least have a higher tolerance level.





Image Citation: Bruce Moltzan, USDA Forest Service,


As with many diseases of woody plants the spread of Phytophthora ramorum most likely occurs from contact with foliar hosts, infected material, soil transfer and spreading by rainwater. Windy, cool and moist conditions are also thought to aide in the spread of the pathogen by further dispersing the spores from their foliar hosts. Transporting (for nursery sale, wholesale or production) of foliar hosts may also aide in the spread of this disease making it harder to control.

The symptoms of Sudden Oak Death are easily identified by large cankers on the trunk or main stem, browning of the leaves or even death of the entire plant/tree. Some infected trees also become host to Bark or Ambrosia Beetles, or Sapwood rotting fungus-these outside organisms may speed up or even contribute to the death of the host. Foliar host infection os harder to identify and may not be noticed until it is to late. With a foliar host you may notice deep gray or brown lesions on the leaf blades, vascular tissues, petiole, or stems of the host.


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