Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuesday's Trees- White Oak
While I was taking pictures of the Live Oaks at Ft. Monroe, I saw this White Oak. The placard tells how this tree was planted in this spot using soil from Omaha Beach in Normandy France. It was planted on the 40th anniversary to commemorate the Allied Forces landing June 6, 1944. It is located inside the moat at Fort Monroe, close to the Lincoln Gun and many Live Oaks. It is listed in the data base for remarkable trees for the state of Virginia.
This White Oak, Quercus alba is a fine example of the tree. It has simple, alternate leaves that are green to blue-green in color and when they first emerge are slightly grayish-green. The color in the fall is a dark red, kind of a purple-ish red and they stay on the trees for a long time after turning. Edges of the leaves have 5- 6 rounded lobes that are similar in size.
The fruit- the acorn- is about an inch in size and has a bumpy brown cap. The tree is monoecious and the acorns do not have a long germination life. According to the forestry service, the rate goes from about 90% as a fresh seed to 7% six months later. Acorns are a food source for both animals and birds.
The above pictures are from a couple different trees. The acorns are newly formed and will turn brown as it ripens.
The bark is grayish brown and has a rough texture. On some of the more mature trees the bark has a bit of a shaggy appearance.
The White Oak is a great shade tree and is drought tolerant and can handle strong winds. Many of the sources I read said that this tree is difficult to transplant.
The growth shape is pyramidal as a young tree and then spreads to a large wide reaching crown with heights up to 100 feet and similar spread.
As I was taking some pictures in the garden last week there was a discussion about which of the trees in the garden were in fact White Oak. A seemingly easy tree to ID. This tree however has been known to cross-pollinate with other oaks to form hybrids. Here is a second forest service article on the White Oak, both mentioning recognized hybrids.
The gypsy moth is one of the pests that have been present in my area that damage the White Oak. Many of the White Oaks in the neighborhood have an insecticide impregnated barrier tape wrapped around the trunk about 4 feet high. If memory serves me (which it doesn't always) about 10 years ago we had a heavy infestation of the gypsy moth. The damage didn't seem to be too bad and we haven't seen the tape on the trees for quite a few years.
The Virginia Tech and NC State websites are great one page references to use for this tree. The UCONN site has a few more photos on its site. There is a little disagreement as to the zones in which this tree does well. Some say 3-8 and others say zone 4 is pushing it. Good thing the tree doesn't always read the book. If there are some in your area, enjoy them! This is a long-lived tree and as I said before, a wonderful shade tree.
Fall colors of the White Oak-
Two items I forgot to include. One- a great web site from Vanderbilt on the Comparison of oak features. Second-- next week's tree will be Willow Oak.