Know Your Oaks Series – Week 4 Oaks!
Welcome to our final week of the Know Your Oaks series – we hope you’ve enjoyed the 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. And in Week 3, the Post Oak, the Willow Oak and the Blackjack Oak. Which brings us to our final week… the Pin Oak, White Oak and the Northern Red Oak!
Pin Oak – Tough, short branchlets found on the Pin Oak’s limbs, are what gives the tree its name. Because of its tolerance for wet conditions, the red oak member tree is also known regionally as Swamp Oak and Water Oak. Pin Oaks have downward sloping lower branches that provide a graceful cascading look to the tree’s form. A fast-growing variety, the Pin Oak has a distinct pyramidal shape when young that spreads with age, and grows to a height of 60-130 feet. It has an inner pink bark and leaves with deep indentations and 5-7 toothed lobes with 1-3 teeth. The acorn cap covers only a quarter of the round nut and has smooth scales. When situated by water, the Pin Oak provides a wonderful nesting site for waterfowl such as egrets, herons and other wetland birds.
White Oak – Part of the white oak grouping, White Oaks are long-lived shade trees that grow from 60 to 150 feet tall. They’re found from Quebec, Ontario, Minnesota, and Maine to Texas and Florida. It gets its name from the very light appearance of new cut wood, which was popular to use for barrel-making and ship hulls in the past. Leaves have rounded lobes, sometimes deeply indented, and are grayish-green and widest near the end. Acorn caps are light gray and enclose only a quarter of the light brown oblong nut. White Oak acorns are a preferred food source for many mammals, including larger ones like bears, as well as larger birds. Because their leaves stay on longer than many other types of deciduous trees, White Oaks provide good cover for birds and mammals.
Northern Red Oak – Northern Red Oak, part of the red oak grouping, is the state tree of New Jersey and can be found from Maine and Michigan to Mississippi. It is fast-growing, hearty and tolerant of compacted soils, reaching a height of 70-150 feet. It provides a beautiful, straight-grained wood in a warm, red-orange color. The Red Oak’s leaves have 7-11 lobes with 1-3 teeth and indentations less than halfway to the center. The acorn cap covers about half the oblong or oval nut. Red Oaks grow almost twice as fast as White Oaks, but are somewhat less tolerant of soil moisture variations. They are more forgiving of shade, however, and can grow beneath the canopy of older trees. Like all oak trees, the Red Oak is an important part of the ecosystem, providing food and shelter for butterflies, moths, game birds, songbirds and mammals. Even as the tree declines, its cavities provide shelter for squirrels, bats and birds.
Looking to review all of the Oaks in the series? Head on back to the main Know Your Oaks page to view each week!
Main Image Photo Credit: Wikipedia – White Oak Tree