Monday, October 23, 2006

Backlog in the Tree Blog... let’s start with oak

With my favorite season well underway, I now have far too many pictures to share, and I promise I'm just going to take more.

Today, let’s start with oak. Earlier this month Salix requested some Red oaks. While many of the oaks are only just turning, some (as those shown here) are in color.

The first two images I am almost certain belong to a Pin oak (Quercus palustris), also called a Swamp oak or a Spanish oak (but be careful, there are different kinds of “Swamp oak”).

The last image I’m not sure of… it could be another Pin oak, or it could be any of several other varieties of oak. I’m still learning to tell them all apart, and leaves can be tricky! More investigation is clearly in order.

I am also still trying to find some pictures of the ash trees for Jenn, but so far I haven’t located any (I haven’t given up!). According to the PA DCNR, there are white ash and black ash growing Pennsylvania; where is the question.

However, if you’re looking for a quick fix of lovely Mountain ash (still green), check out these pictures from Chavala. She's got some great stuff.


  1. Wow, lovely pics. I will be stopping by frequently to share all the glorious colors. Waiting for red maple leaves PLEASE.

    Huggs, G

  2. Geraldine - red maples, coming up!

  3. Some very noble oaks indeed, which leads me to believe there's much truth in the etymological rumour that Quercus derives from the Celtic word quer, meaning "fine," and cuez, meaning "tree". And I can certainly see why Thomas Hardy chose Farmer Oak as the name of his hero in Far From the Madding Crowd.

  4. Nice pictures! I have a question regarding oaks-how well to they respond to severe pruning? I have a large oak with a divided main trunk, and I want to have one side nearly entirely lobbed off (it's hanging over the house). I understand about the seasonal requirements for trimming oaks due to wilt disease, but will the tree be ok after losing about 1/3 of itself?

  5. Pollen Nation, thanks so much for all that fun information!

    Lisa, greetings and welcome!

    Now, keeping in mind that I'm not a professional arborist (meaning that I don't have any formal training in tree care and maintenance), I am inclined to say yes, your tree will survive a 30% structural loss.

    Plants are resilient creatures, and it is likely that your tree will be able to adjust. However, you will want to keep a few things in mind:

    1) Balance. If you look at your tree now, you'll probably be able to see how the portion of your tree hanging over your house is a counterbalance for the rest of the tree. When you remove that portion, the tree is going to be heavier on the other side. This *can*, but not necessarily will make this tree more susceptible to falling towards its heavier side. Again, I'm not saying it will happen, just that it's possible. Either way, you’re going to want to carefully watch your tree’s health after the haircut.

    2) Bud growth. Pruning can have different effects on different trees, but ultimately it either slows growth, or motivates new growth (or both). Growth slows because the structural loss means fewer leaves to make energy. Growth accelerates because of the presence of epicormic buds, which are essentially dormant buds you cannot see living deep within the tree's tissue. Trimming a tree can send a signal to these epicormic buds to start growing, which means you may find new "suckers" (those slender little twiggy branches) coming out of your tree at all kinds of places.

    Apart from those thoughts, you might enjoy this article:

    Pruning Oak Trees in Southern California

    Note that this is a .pdf document, so it may take a few extra seconds to load, and you'll need Acrobat Reader to open it. It has all kinds of good points about oak pruning which may be helpful for you.

    On a final note, I like to garden with the moon (not everyone does). As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to prune/cut during the waxing (growing) moon if you want to encourage more growth, and to prune/cut during the waning (shrinking) moon if you want to slow growth. Like I said, not everyone is into lunar gardening, but if it is of interest to you, it may serve your purposes to select the appropriate phase of the moon for your work.

    If you're looking for a second opinion from a certified arborist, you may want to send your question to Chris Welch at GreenSpade:

    He's very friendly and will likely be able to offer a more "professional" opinion!

    Good luck with your tree, I hope the haircut goes well! Feel free to stop by and let us know how it turns out.


  6. Thanks so much for all the excellent info! I will absolutely post an update...probably in Feb. or March, as I have to wait for my tax check to afford the trim job.

  7. Oh how beauuuuuutiful! Those are simply lovely pics of oak leaves. I love how the viens show up so brightly in the middle picture.
    I'm still waiting for color here.. I think the leaves are just turning brown and falling, there's a few yellow leaves coming off my witch hazel, but they even look half dead. A dissapointing autumn show.
    I wanted to post a pic of my young ash for you and Jen, it's still green. But blogger is not co-operating just now. Maybe tommorro.
    Thanks for the leafy pics!


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