Last fall I collected some acorns from under a Willow Oak on the
PSU-Hershey Med Center Campus. Four of them started to grow, only one
looks right for a Willow oak.
. (The one on
the left.) All of the acorns originally appeared to be from the same
tree. There were other red oaks (others from the group with spines on
the leaf tip) Can I have some hybrids in my group of four?
Can I plant these out into the yard now here in PA if I keep them well
watered? If not now, when?
PS I fell in love with the Willow Oaks at Mt. Vernon when I visited,
but was told they were a southern tree. I later found out that some
can grow up north if they were adapted, but found no nursery that had
them. When I saw the trees in 2002 at Hershey Med I kept watching them
the sooner the better. They have a tremendous taproot which is now
severely confined, so you are weakening them. Oaks, as well as
chestnuts, are best planted directly from seed. Choose their final
location now because they can not be replanted elsewhere (due to said
Western oaks (e.g., valley white oak (Quercus lobata), coast live oak
(Q. agrifolia)) do not do well in gardens. They require a dry summer
and a wet winter (not real wet). The irrigation required for gardens
during our long, hot summers will eventually kill western oaks through
root rot. They also do not appreciate other plants in their root zones.
This can be overcome by cutting away the main tap root while the tree
is still a seedling, which is done for nursery-grown oaks. Then,
western oaks do quite well in gardens.
I don't know if any of this applies to eastern oaks.
See <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_oak_acorn.html .
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
None of it applies. But to finish the discussion, these trees can be
transplanted in "whip" form. Basically, a bed with very loose soil is
seeded with acorns, walnuts, or chestnuts (all are highland, sunny-side
trees with taproots), and then the tree is pulled at about 1-2 ft
length (with the taproot, that will be 4-5ft). It can then be replanted
given a deep enough hole. They do not have a root ball, just a long
taproot with a few feeders.
Thanks for that info. I dug up a volunteer and potted it up, then
transplanted to a larger pot. I don't have room for it in my yard but
want to give it to my son or one of my kids if they have room for it.
It looks like a couple of those plants he posted. I know it came from
the tree just like it across the alley. I would have rather had a
pinoak from a little further away, but you take what you get.
I also have a volunteer tulip tree that will not mature where it has
sprung up, been whacked once and shot up a long new shoot with huge
leaves. They grow from seed if planted directly in the ground in the
fall I read somewhere on the net. I don't have room for one of those
either, but I love trees, and it's fun to watch them grow.
I just sprayed 6 three foot circles with Roundup for the four red oaks
I put in my picture and two of the other 6 white oaks I got to sprout.
The white oaks are from Chestnut Oak acorns from the park across town.
I will see if anyone at work wants the other 4.
I plan on doing no amending just digging down 18" or so to loosen
things. I plan on building up a ring of soil, using tree shelters and
putting down 2" of hardwood mulch.
Still want to know if anyone thinks that hybrids may be possible.
These oaks are just an aside for me, my true plant love is/are orchids.
I don't quite understand about the Roundup unless you have something
invasive where you are going to plant them. I assume you mean you
sprayed in anticipation of planting? Good luck with finding homes for
the other ones.
I'm by no means an expert, and can't do heavy planting any more (yours
aren't heavy planting), but when I did set out my trees from the
nursery, I mixed what came out of the hole with some kind of fertilizer
in a large container, can't remember what, and filled the hole with
that, wasn't into mulch like I am now, but that is a must. Two inches
is about right. Be sure to mound up the soil in a little circle a way
out (not too high) to channel the water. Water well before planting,
after planting, and frequently thereafter until the roots take hold and
deepen but not excessively. Some of these darn things have such a will
to live you don't have to do much of anything; other things you have to
pamper. A friend told me about cypress mulch which I like the looks of
(only I wish it weren't quite so chunky but that keeps it from degrading
I suppose), and arborday.org says in their planting instructions not to
let the mulch touch the bark at the base of the little trees. There,
I've told you all I know and there's more than one way of doing it, I'm
That is an interesting question, you will need an expert for that.
Certain plants will only cross with certain plants within their own
species and that's the way it is. Still lots of things are possible.
They might need some gene splicing to cross, I have no clue. Be fun to
try, but then how would you know if you have gotten a true cross or a
mutation (probably rare in trees but I've seen a few strange things with
Good luck with your little trees. It is truly a labor of love. You
watched so long and waited. I did the same with a Linden tree I wanted,
asked permission from the city to try to root some suckers, had no clue
what I was doing, thought a growth bud started to swell on my kitchen
windowsill, then I got busy with other things and it died. So I bought
a Linden tree and had it planted on the farm to mark uh my cat's grave.
If I feel like driving, I can take mine to the farm and plant them, but
I did that before and couldn't get back to water them, only thing that
survived was a yellow lilac. Trees are not real welcome there because
of the extra work and they want every square inch of tillable ground
free of them.
I wish I had more room; my yard is rather small for my big plans and
I'm no expert, but the one on the left doesn't look like a willow oak
to me. All the willow oaks I've seen have much leaves that are much
more narrow and lanceolate.
Here is a web page that shows some photos of hybrids between willow
oaks and different red oaks:
I'll bet the seedling on the left in your photo is a hybrid.
Hybrids? Possibly. Are these all willow oaks? possibly. though I
don't think so. For hybridization, you would probably be talking
about two red oaks or two white oaks (the broad families, not the
species with those common names). I doubt a white oak would cross
with a red. But all this is the realm of someone more botanist than
arborist, and that ain't me.
Oaks have a tendency to look like some other oak when this young. but
you seem to have three distinct species here, whether hybrid or not.
Just guessing, I'd say chinkapin, (maybe willow), shumard, shumard,
looking at your photo left to right. But, again, they may look quite
different as they get older.
Did the acorns all look alike? Generally, a shumard's acorns will all
look a lot like each other and not much like, say, a chinkapin's. So
if the acorns were similar, there's a better chance they are the same
species showing different characteristics. The range of differences
will vary, too, so maybe the acorns looked alike but were still not
from the same tree.
Sorry not to offer a more definitive answer. To sum up, wait and see.
ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
Thank you for the comments...The acorns I collected from Hershey Med
were all identical.
I was back up in Hershey yesterday and swung by to look at the tree
under which I took the acorns. The tree looks like a willow oak from
the leaves. There were no white oaks like the chinkapin around anywere
near the willow oak. There were some trees that could have been
shumard oaks, there were also ones that looked like northern red oak,
pin oaks, and a black oak. Among about 20 oaks there were only three
that were willow oak looking.
Hybrid or not, willow oak or not, I think I have some strong seedlings
worth planting. The two on the ends are now starting there third flush
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