Oaks Notes

Oaks Notes

Learn More About the Oaks...

Empire National Nursery has fast growing Oak trees and shrub plants for home garden landscaping

Pin Oak

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), is one of the more popular Oaks planted, and certainly worth a few notes. Pin Oak has quite a few common names, varying depending on region of the country and other factors, such as Swamp Oak, Water Oak, and Swamp Spanish Oak.

This is a fast-growing, moderately large tree found on wet or bottom lands, on moist uplands, often on poorly drained clay soils. The wood is hard and heavy and is used in general construction and for firewood. Pin Oak transplants well and is tolerant of the many stresses of the urban environment, so has become a popular tree for streets and landscapes.

Pin Oak grows from southwestern New England west to southern Ontario, southern Michigan, northern Illinois, and Iowa; south to Missouri, eastern Kansas, and northeastern Oklahoma; then east to central Arkansas, Tennessee, central North Carolina, and Virginia. Basically, Pin Oak is an Ohio river valley tree.

The climate throughout most of the range of Pin Oak is humid. Precipitation varies from about 32 inches to more than 50 inches, with an even mix between snow and rainfall. Temperatures and growing season lengths suggest this to be a Zone 5 to 8 natural range, and Pin Oak can likely handle the Zone 9 climate also. Full sun is needed.

Pin Oak grows primarily on level or nearly level, poorly drained floodplain and river bottom soils with high clay content, but doesnít tolerate long-term flooding too well. Here in the Central Hardwood Major Forest Type, there is a large variety of other broadleaf trees associated with Pin Oak, including - Red Maple, American Elm, Black Tupelo, Swamp White Oak, Willow Oak, Overcup Oak, Bur Oak, Green Ash, Nuttall Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak, Shellbark Hickory, Shagbark Hickory, Sweetgum, Boxelder, Hackberry, Silver Maple, Sycamore, and Eastern Cottonwood.

Pin Oak is monoecious; having separate male and female flowers. The flowers appear at about the time the leaves develop in the spring. Staminate flowers develop from buds formed in the leaf axils of the previous year, and pistillate flowers are borne on short stalks from the axils of current-year leaves. Pollination is by wind. Fruit is an acorn (nut) that matures at the end of the second growing season after flowering. Acorns are ripe in the fall, and certainly popular with squirrels and other animals.

Pin Oak seedlings develop a strong taproot, but as they become older, the root system becomes more fibrous. This makes transplanting easier, and with higher survival.

More Oak Notes

We have mentioned before about the two major sub-classifications for Oaks, and we decided to make the list... Here are some of the major native Oaks divided into the two groups with a wide array of common names.

Worldwide, the Oaks (Quercus) are a large part of the Beech Family (Fagaceae), consisting of 300 to 500 species that can be separated into two major groups based on their anatomy: There is a third smaller sub-classification, Live Oak group, but the first major group is the Red Oak (Erythrobalanus), and second group is the White Oak (Leucobalanus).

Empire National Nursery has fast growing Oak trees and shrub plants for home garden landscapingRed Oak Group (Erythrobalanus) -

Quercus coccinea - Bastard Oak, Black Oak, Buck Oak, Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, Spanish Oak, Spotted Oak

Quercus falcata - American Red Oak, Bottomland Red Oak, Cherrybark Oak, Elliott Oak, Red Oak, Spanish Oak, Southern Red Oak, Swamp Red Oak, Swamp Spanish Oak, Turkeyfoot Oak, Water Oak

Quercus kelloggii - Black Oak, California Black Oak, Kellogg Oak, Mountain Black Oak

Quercus laurifolia - Darlington Oak, Diamond-Leaf Oak, Laurel Oak, Laurel-Leaf Oak, Swamp Laurel Oak, Water Oak, Obtusa Oak

Quercus nigra - American Red Oak, Blackjack, Pin Oak, Possum Oak, Punk Oak, Red Oak, Spotted Oak, Water Oak

Quercus nuttallii - Nuttall Oak, Pin Oak, Red Oak, Red River Oak, Striped Oak

Quercus palustris - Pin Oak, Red Oak, Spanish Oak, Spanish Swamp Oak, Spanish Water Oak, Swamp Oak, Swamp Spanish Oak, Water Oak

Quercus phellos - Black Oak, Laurel Oak, Peach Oak, Pin Oak, Red Oak, Swamp Willow Oak, Water Oak, Willow Oak, Willow Swamp Oak

Quercus rubra - American Red Oak, Black Oak, Buck Oak, Canadian Red Oak, Common Red Oak, Gray Oak, Eastern Red Oak, Leopard Oak, Maine Red Oak, Mountain Red Oak, Northern Red Oak, Red Oak, Spanish Oak, Spotted Oak, Southern Red Oak, Swamp Red Oak, Water Oak, West Virginia Soft Red Oak

Quercus shumardii - American Red Oak, Schneck Oak, Schneck Red Oak, Shumard Oak, Shumard Red Oak, Southern Red Oak, Spotted Bark, Spotted Oak, Swamp Red Oak, Texas Oak, Texas Red Oak

Quercus velutina - American Red Oak, Blackjack, Black Oak, Dyer Oak, Jack Oak, Quercitron, Quercitron Oak, Redbush, Red Oak, Smoothbark Oak, Spotted Oak, Tanbark Oak, Yellowbark, Yellow Oak, Yellowbark Oak

Empire National Nursery has fast growing Oak trees and shrub plants for home garden landscapingWhite Oak Group (Leucobalanus) -

Quercus alba - American white Oak, Arizona Oak, Arizona white Oak, forked-leaf white Oak, Louisiana white Oak, mantua Oak, ridge white Oak, stave Oak, true white Oak, West Virginia soft white Oak, white Oak

Quercus bicolor - blue Oak, cherry Oak, curly swamp Oak, swamp Oak, swamp white Oak, white Oak

Quercus garryana - Brewer Oak, Garry Oak, Oregon Oak, Oregon White Oak, Pacific Post Oak, Pacific White Oak, Post Oak, Prairie Oak, Shin Oak, Western Oak, Western White Oak, white Oak

Quercus lyrata - American White Oak, Overcup Oak, Swamp Post Oak, Swamp White Oak, Water White Oak

Quercus macrocarpa - Blue Oak, Bur Oak, Burr Oak, Mossycup Oak, Mossy-overcup Oak, Overcup Oak, Scrub Oak, White Oak, White Mossycup Oak, White Overcup Oak

Quercus michauxii - American White Oak, Basket Oak, Cow Oak, Swamp Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii - Chestnut Oak, ChinkaPin Oak, ChinquaPin Oak, Dwarf Chestnut Oak, Dwarf Chinkapin, Pin Oak, Rock Oak, Rock Chestnut Oak, Running White Oak, Scrub Oak, Shrub Oak, White Oak, Yellow Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak

Quercus prinus - American White Oak, Basket Oak, Chestnut Oak, Chestnut Rock Oak, Chestnut Swamp Oak, Cow Oak, Mountain Oak, Rock Oak, Rock Chestnut, Rock Chestnut Oak, Swamp Oak, Tanbark Oak, White Oak, White Chestnut Oak

Quercus stellata - American Post Oak, Barren White Oak, Bastard Oak, Bastard White Oak, Box Oak, Box White Oak, Brash Oak, Delta Post Oak, Durand Oak, Iron Oak, Pin Oak, Post Oak, Ridge Oak, Rough Oak, Rough White Oak, Southern Oak, Turkey Oak, White Box Oak, White Oak

Live Oak Group -

Quercus virginiana - Dwarf Live Oak, Encino Live Oak, Live Oak, Rolfs Oak, Scrub Live Oak, Virginia Live Oak, Virginia Oak

Empire National Nursery has fast growing Oak trees and shrub plants for home garden landscapingSprouting Scalet Oak Seeds

(applicable for all oaks seeds)

Also known as Spanish Oak, Black Oak, and Red Oak, the Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) is one of the most popularly planted oaks because of the vibrant red color the leaves turn in the fall. The oaks are part of the Beech Family (Fagaceae), and is one of the most important genera of hardwoods. There are about 70 species of native oaks, plus another 60 or 70 hybrids, planted and used for everything from timber, food for man and beasts, watershed and environmental plantings, oils and chemical extracts, and of course for landscaping.

The Scarlet Oak is in the Black Oak sub-genera group, Erythrobalanus. These are oaks with leaves that are bristle-tipped, acorns that mature in 2 years, bark on the older trees usually black and furrowed, and a couple other technical differences than the White Oak group (Lepidobalanus).

Understanding the differences between Blacks and Whites (no racial pun intended), is important when collecting seeds or planning seed collections. Everything in the nursery environment has to do with long-ranged plans and "windows of opportunity", and oak seed collection usually has a narrow window. Good crops of Scarlet acorns happens every 3 to 5 years, to make scheduling even tighter.

Male Scarlet Oak flowers come out anywhere from February to May, either before the leaves or just as the leaves are popping out, with the flowers being naked aments (catkins). It is these flowers that fall off all over the place that gives oaks a "dirty" reputation. Its interesting that with all of the oaks, the male flowers develop from the leaf axils from the previous year, whereas the female flowers come from axils of the current year.

The fruit is of course is an acorn, which is a nut (technically), single-seeded (one tree per nut), and found individually or in clusters up to five acorns. The nut is partially enclosed by a scaly cap, a modified involucre (a bract structure usually found below a flowers petals). Scarlets' acorns are one-half to one inch long half covered with the cap. The acorn has circle-like rings around the point., and about 200 to 400 seeds per pound. Typical of the oaks, they are green when pre-ripe, and turn brown to black when ripe.

Collecting acorns is easy, from the ground is the most common and simple method, but this is where timing is critical. Once acorns hit the ground, there are many insects (like weevils) and animals that eat or destroy them. With good seed crops happening every several years, you need to be watching and ready to collect them. The good news is that collection is easy, and so is the cleaning process. Except for removing seeds that look damaged or have those pin-holes (from the weevils), the only other junk to remove are the caps that have fallen off. It is critical to remove the bad seeds, they can spoil the whole barrel.

The acorn of all oaks is mostly a pair of fleshy cotyledons (seed leaves), and the shell is thick. Scarlet Oaks usually have embryos that are dormant, so they need a cold chilling period to snap that condition. Soaked overnight in water, drained, and placed either in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 days, or outside in a sand bed where the temperatures remain in the low 30's (like during the fall and winter months, will work well also. Because of this treatment, seeds are usually fall sown.

The soil mix should be sandy or well-drained, and the acorns are planted about an inch deep. If planted in the fall, cover with a mulch layer of straw or leaves. This protects the seeds from cold winter temperatures as well as rodents looking for freebies. After the frost danger is past in the spring, then you can remove the mulch. Planting in beds is better than in flats or containers because the thick tap roots needs room to develop. They should be dug up after the first year or they will become increasing difficult with time. Once transplanted, they can go into larger containers or another bed for one or more years. They can then be ready for planting in the ground after the second year.

Scarlet Oaks have been grown in the United States since 1691, one of the longest cultivated trees noted.

We like the Oaks... and we hope you will consider planting some of these this season. Theya re really so nice...

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