Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Post oak leaves

Quercus stellata

Post oak leaves

Post Oak leaf

Maltese cross

Many articles that describe post oaks mention their cross-shaped leaves. Often, it's said that the leaf resembles a Maltese cross. Perhaps you can see the resemblance in the shapes of the leaf at left and the Maltese cross at right.

The post oak leaves in the photo above are a bit ragged, but some of them do demonstrate the cross-like shape that is typical of post oaks in this area.

Post oaks are quite drought resistant. This post oak retained its leaves during the past summer of extreme drought, while some drought-sensitive trees in our area dropped a good portion of their leaves or even died.

Post oaks often grow in areas that tend to be dry, such as "rocky or sandy ridges and dry woodlands with a variety of soils" (according to the USDA Forest Service.) True to form, this post oak is growing on a knoll on top of a long, broad ridge. In the fence row between two farms, with a field on one side and a pasture on the other, it gets the full access to sunshine that it needs.

Mature post oaks may reach 50 or more feet in height and about the same distance in spread. They are slow-growing trees, but long-lived, often surviving 300 to 400 years. Their acorns are eaten by a wide variety of birds and animals. (If you look carefully, you can see a few acorns on the branch in the photo.)

Three things that post oaks don't like and may not survive are:
1. Standing in water
2. Trying to grow in shade
3. Having their roots disturbed or their soil compacted.

If you want a post oak in your yard, you'll probably have to plant it yourself. The acorns germinate in the fall, so look for them right now and plant them soon.

If you're building in an area where there are already post oak trees, don't drive on the ground under them. The best way to protect them during construction is to install a fence that encompasses the entire area beneath their canopy.

Images of post oaks

2 comments -- please add yours:

drb said...

Your blog entry reminded my I had pressed out some post oak leaves last year -- and prompeted me to illustrate one. Linked your entry here: Daily Art (mas o menos): Post Oak Leaves

Genevieve said...

I enjoyed seeing it, drb -- it's a very nice piece of art. I don't know how you did that mottling on the leaf, but it looks great.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

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Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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