A couple weeks ago we took a drive to the next county to check on one of our antique clocks. Most of our outings turn into adventures, this is no exception. We came across a sign that indicated an Indian grave site and we thought we would check it out.
We never found the exact place but did find a sign telling about the Cherokee in this area. Historical markers tell the tale. Interesting link.
ANYHOW, while we were driving around we saw this neat old church. After we looked at the church (from the truck) I had Charlie drive around the front of the driveway again. Something caught my eye. It was this fern, growing in the tree, green! in the beginning of February. I took pictures of the fern and tried to research it, thinking it was a tree fern. It wasn't so I did what anyone would do, send the pictures to my friendly fern expert. This fern is an epiphyte, growing on the tree but not taking nutrients from the tree. It is a Resurrection fern, Polypodium polypodioides. Amazingly it is hardy zones 6- 11. Floridata has some good information about this cool fern. Thanks Jim!
I know what you are thinking, this is a tree posting, where is the tree?
Well the fern was in the tree!! The tree was an oak, kind of gnarly...probably close to 100 years old. Turns out this was a Bur(r) oak, Quercus macrocarpa. The bark is gray to brown and in older trees the scaly bark becomes vertical longer ridges. In making my identification I wasn't sure (100%) about my first assessment that it was a Bur Oak as the twigs have corky wings, similar to the Sweetgum or Winged Elm.
From the photos I had, none of the twigs showed signs of corky ridges. The leaves had rounded lobes, check.
The Bur Oak is in the white oak family, rounded lobes. The leaves I am sharing are from last year, those who hang on to the end of winter. In the spring/summer I will go back and get some green leaf photos. The leaves cluster at the branch tips, another white oak characteristic.
The tree is monoecious and the fruit is one of its most striking features. The acorn is a good food source for the animals and birds of its forest. Here is what I first saw of this noted fruit--
Not impressed? Just look at the size of this acorn!
This tree doesn't usually produce seed until it is about 35 years old, with the best years between the ages 75- 150 years. It can continue to produce seed/ fruit well into the 400th year. Pretty amazing.
The mature size of this tree is 80 feet but there are some larger ones in the Ohio River valley. It is a slow grower and lives upwards of 400 years. The shape of the mature tree is wide and spreading canopy and is a wonderful shade tree.The native range is the Eastern part of North America, though it was planted across the Great Plains. It is grown in various sights, depending soils, it could be a bottom lands tree or uplands or limestone ridges. The Silvics Manual has a detailed account of growing conditions. My other 'go-to' reference is VTech dendrology publications.
The wood is prized for lumber uses, often sold as white oak.
Next week, taking a tree break. Stay tuned for more to come.
words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.