Oaks 1 2 3 and

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(Plates 45-487 pp. 324-330)

The oaks are usually tall trees and have great and diversified values. Group identification points are: true end buds clustered at tips of twigs, more than 3 bundle scars per leaf scar, and presence of acorns. Only a very few other plants have clustered end buds (principally Rose-of-Sharon, Plate 42, Corkwood, Plate 59, some cherries, Plate 53, and azaleas, Plate 64) and they lack the other characteristics. Male flowers appear in May and early fune as slender drooping clusters of long catkins. Female blossoms are inconspicuous.

The genus Quercus is generally divided into 2 sections: the red (or black) oaks and the white oaks. Red oaks differ from the white in that (1) leaf lobes or teeth have hairlike bristle-tips, (2) broken brown acorn shells (not the cups) have hairy inner surfaces, and (3) acorns require 2 years to mature, so both tiny Ist-year and larger 2nd-year acorns usually are present on mature trees in summer. White oaks have leaves that lack bristle-tips and have hairless inner acorn shells and acorns that mature in 1 year. Acorns of red oaks are yellow, bitter, and usually inedible; those o:i some white oaks are white and relatively sweet

V. OAKS

and edible. The barks of many red oaks are dark in color; those

of white oaks are mostly light. Within the white oak group, however, the Chestnut Oaks are a distinctive subdivision. They have wavy-edged or toothed leaves, mostly inedible acorns, and often dark, frequently deeply ridged barks. Oaks (1), (3), and Live Oak of (4) are white oaks. The others are of the red oak subdivision.

To provide for more simple identification, the oaks are here divided into groups primarily according to whether the leaves are lobed or not, Though variable, most oalcs can be identified in season by their leaf shapes alone, as shown on the plates, Exceptions are the Scarlet-Pin Oak group and apparent hybrids between species. Additional foliage data are given beyond for each species. As an aid to winter identification, the drawings, with their natural-size sketches of single end buds» are supplemented (p. 215) by a table. In this table, where a species is listed as having hairy twigs, the degree of hairiness often is slight. A magnifying lens should be used to determine whether twigs or buds are hairy. Buds taken for identification from unknown specimens should be carefully selected for their full, mature growth, Acorns are necessary aids in some identifications. If none are growing, look for old ones on the ground. Acorns always grow partly enclosed in basal growths universally called "cups/' but despite this the "cups" are nearly as universally described as "saucerlike," "goblet-shaped," or otherwise treated as uncuplike. Acorns and their cups often provide the most certain means for identifying oak species,

Not every oak specimen can be definitely identified by the amateur. Even professional botanists frequently are pu/zled by apparent hybrids and variants. Winter identifications often are especially difficult.

Oaks provide about half the annual production of hardwood lumber in the United States. They are slow-growing, long-lived, and relatively disease- and insect-resistant, although the oak wilt disease currently is causing concern- Bark of several oaks is rich in tannin used in curing leather. By boiling out the tannic acid, the Indians converted into staple articles of diet even the acorns of red oaks. During the Anglo-Saxon rule in England oak forests were valued highly for fattening swine, and laws provided that anyone wantonly injuring or destroying an oak should be fined according to size of tree and its ability to bear fruits.

Extensive browsing on early spring foliage by cattle occasionally results in poisoning. Twigs and fruits of oaks form a large portion of the food consumed by many game birds and mammals. Acorns are eaten bv nearlv all herbivorous birds and mammals, w W

List of species eating these nuts in our area includes many songbirds as well as the ruffed and sharptail grouse, prairie chicken, bobwhite, wild turkey, pheasant, mourning dove, wood duck,

Guide to Winter Identification of Oaks

evcrerit'ti oaks

Further notes

Post

no

no

no

*

no

Blackjack

no

no

/

yes

ves j

Scrub

no

ves

no

no

no

Spanish

no

*

yes

yes

no

acorn cup saucer-shaped

Sand

no

var.

yes

#

no

acorn cup goblet-shaped

White

ves r

*

no

no

no

acorn short-stalked, cup L>owl-shaped

Swamp

0

ves

no

tin

no

acorn long-stalked, cup bowl-shaped

Overcup

yes

yes

no

no

no

acorn cup unique; see text

Dwarf

yes

yes

no

110

no

shrub

Mossvcup

V

#r

no

yes

no

Pin

ves m

*

yes

no

no

many stubby pint ike branches

Jack

yes

■m

yes

no

no

northern, acorn cup deep conical

Shumard

ves m

/

ves

no

yes

southern; acorn cup shallow

Willow

/

yes

yes

no

0

uplands

Laurel

yes m

*

*

no

0

lowlands

Water

yes

ves w

0

*

*

buds almost woolly

Shingle

yes

/

ves

0

no

bud scales with hairy edges

Scarlet

ves r

no

no

0

no

ape* of bud white-hairy

Red

yes

no

yes

no

no

bark dark, usually with Hat shiny ridges

Chestnut

yes

no

yes

no

no

hark dark, with sharp dull ridges

Chinquapin

yes

no

yes

no

no

bark light gray; acorn cup scales tight

Basket

yes

no

yes

no

no

bark li£hl gray; acorn cup scales free

Nuttall 1

ves al

no

yes

yes if

no

Mississippi valley

Turkey

0

no

ves

yes

no

southern Coastal Plain

Black

yes

no

ves m

0

0

hark dark, blocky

whitetail deer, black bear, red fox, gray fox, raccoon, opossum, gray squirrel, fox squirrel, reel squirrel, and several chipmunks and ground squirrels. Deer, cottontail, and snowshoe hare browse twigs; porcupine eats the growing layer beneath bark. Many Indians ate acorns; acids of Red Oak acorns were removed by grinding and washing with hot water.

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