Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oak Family

For fall folliage fans, late November and December belong to the Oaks. (Bradford Pears also wear their colors late, but tend to shed them quicker.) So, after softer woods are bare, CentalArkansas is given to the copper/coffee/cardboard tans of Oaks... many of which hold their dried out leaves deep into winter.

There are literally hundreds of Oak varieties in the World, and many dozens to be found in Arkansas. At a quick glance, many of these - by leaf, or form - appear to be so different from one another that we wonder how they could all be "oak" -- while other oaks under differnet names, appear so much alike, that it difficult to determine if they should be regarded as independent species or as subspecies in the same family. The nomenclature of ID is made all the more difficult because many related species hybidize with one another, or show substantial variation under the same label. I have even found very differnt leaf types -- on the very same tree! Beyond that, the internet and other sources don't always agree on what a given Oak species is. Look up Black Oak or Red Oak and you will find incongruent samples.
Given the great differences in Oaks, ranging from towering monoliths to sandy beach thickets, one might wonder what is it about an Oak, that makes it an Oak. Simple. Acorns.
Oaks produce acorns. If it makes an acorn... its an oak.
One web site I visited grouped Oak into two major families - The Black Oak, and the White Oak families. This can be confusing as both Black Oak, and White Oak are used to identify at the species level, and not all oaks fit into either group, however as a family name the Black Oak family represents those oaks that have sharp angular lobes, while the White Oak family generally consists of those oaks with rounded lobes.

Black Oak family (In Arkansas)
Black oak, Red oak, Southern Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, Pin Oak.

White Oak family:
White oak, Post oak, Black Jack Oak, Water Oak. Willow Oak. Chestnut Oak.

1 comment:

Carla said...

Beautiful work Kirk!

I've just started working on some of the local trees and was wondering about the maples. Excellent photos.