Know Your Oaks Series – Week 3 Oaks!
Welcome to Week 3 of our “Know Your Oaks” series! So far, we’ve explored the Black Oak, the Swamp White Oak and the Chestnut Oak in week 1. In week 2, we explored the Bear Oak, the Dwarf Chinquapin Oak and the Southern Red Oak. Which brings us to Week 3 – the Post Oak, the Willow Oak and the Blackjack Oak!
Post Oak (featured as the main image) – Also known as Iron Oak and a member of the white oak grouping, the slow-growing Post Oak can reach heights of 50 to 100 feet. Its leaves have five to seven smooth lobes and indentations on roughly half. Its round acorns have wart-like marks and caps that cover one quarter to two-thirds of the nut. The trees are found throughout the Deep South and beyond, extending from Texas to New Jersey. The Post Oak lives in dry, poor soils, and is resistant to rot, fire, and drought. The tree gets its name from its durability when in contact with the soil, making it widely used for fence posts.
Willow Oak – Part of the red oak group, Willow Oak is native to eastern and central United States from Long Island Sound south to northern Florida, and west to southernmost Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas. While no relation to willows, they do thrive in floodplains and near streams or marshes, but the trees are remarkably drought tolerant, too. They do best in acidic soils. They do not have the characteristic lobed leaves of the red oaks, but instead, have narrow willow-like leaves with a bristle-like hair at the end of the foliage that characterizes them as oaks. Fairly quick-growing, Willow Oaks are popular shade trees in parks and along streets, but can be too large for some urban settings. Narrow leaves make this oak the finest textured of the oaks. The leaves stay green until late fall and sometimes remain on the tree. The Willow Oak’s acorns are particularly loved by Blue Jays and squirrels.
Blackjack Oak – A very hardy red oak variety, the Blackjack Oak is a scrubby, deciduous tree that thrives in sandy, acidic, well-drained, nutrient-poor soils –perfectly suited for living in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Blackjack Oaks are one of the New Jersey Pine Barrens’ most abundant tree species. Low-growing with a shrubby habit, Blackjack Oaks often have gnarled trunks and twisted branches. When grouped as a colony in native settings, they form a protective haven for hundreds of butterfly, moth and insect species, which in turn, attract birds and smaller animals such as chipmunks and squirrels. In spring, velvety, red new leaves and yellow catkins make a striking display. Summer foliage is dark green and glossy. Blackjack Oaks produce acorns every two years.
Looking for more Oaks? Head back to Week 2 of Know Your Oaks, where we had explored the Bear Oak, the Dwarf Chinquapin Oak and the Southern Red Oak, or head on back to the main Know Your Oaks page to view each week!
Main Image Credit: Wikipedia – Post Oak Tree