Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Architecture of Oaks

Few things are more magnificent than our native oak trees.  Towering above us, some of these beauties are nearly 300 years old and have survived fire, flood and farmers.  Bur oak (Quercus melanocarpa) has the thickest, most corrugated bark.  These crusty giants can withstand prairie fires and shed distinctiver shaggy capped acorns.  It grows very large and each one has an individual shape with gnarled and twisted branches.

White oak (Quercus alba) is our state tree and is very straight and upright.  It has smooth, fat acorns and can turn russet in fall.  We are losing them as development creeps in.  One friend of ours recently had to take a white oak down due to age and disease.  Yet, by using a certfied arborist and professional forester, he was able to harvest the lumber and is using to make furniture for his family.

Red oak (Quercus rubra) wants to be a wide and spreading tree.  You'll find limbs going straight out for yards and yards if it has enough room.  Red oak acorns are delightfully pointed and it turns a deep red to wine in fall.  This is one of our oaks that grows very fast - some years two to three feet!

These are a mix of all three oaks, each with its own personality.

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