90522thumbOak, which might seem to be obvious to many of us, was identified by the Arbor Day Foundation as the People’s Choice for American’s National Tree. We certainly like our redwoods and exotic palms in California. Quaking aspen and blue spruce are probably favorites in Colorado. Sugar maple must be the most popular in Vermont. Yet, everyone appreciates the mighty American oaks.

Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia each have an oak as the official state tree. ‘Oak’ is one of the more traditional names for streets and roads throughout America. Just in California, at least eight towns are named after oaks, both in English and Spanish. Oaks put the ‘oak’ in Oaklahoma! (Oakay, maybe that last one is an exaggeration.)

So, now that we know that oak is what most Americans want to be the National Tree, does anyone know what species the oak should be? Well, that will take a bit more work. There are so many in America. There are too many to select from just in California! They are each so unique too. Some grow into grand trees. Others are shrubby scrub oaks. They might be deciduous or evergreen.

It is important to be aware that, just because oaks are the most popular trees in America, they are not necessarily appropriate for home gardens. Some, particularly in California, are best in the wild outside of landscaped areas. Some get too big. Some are too messy with acorns and leaves that fall slowly for a long time, either evergreen or deciduous. Some are susceptible to disease.

It is also important to be aware that big mature oaks, as rugged as the seem to be, are remarkably sensitive to modifications to their environment. Wild oaks that matured in areas that were not landscaped can succumb to rot in only a few years if the ground below them gets landscaped and regularly watered. Oaks planted into new landscapes adapt to the watering they get while young.

For landscapes that can accommodate them, oaks are grand and elegant shade trees that last a lifetime. There are many good reasons for their popularity.


Apologies for posting tomorrow’s article today. Today’s article will be posted tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns

    1. You would think that the names would run out! There are many town in California names after oaks, and some get redundant. My former neighborhood in town was Live Oak Manor, and we just called it Live Oak. In Santa Cruz, less than twenty miles away, there is another neighborhood known as Live Oak. That name comes up a lot.

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    1. Actually, what everyone else knows as white oak is more rare here than burr oak is, although I know of only a few burr oaks. I have never seen a ‘typical’ white oak. The massive valley oak is also known as white oak, and is the only white oak I have ever seen locally. Farther north, the similar but smaller Oregon white oak is common in the Siskiyous and Willamette Valley. It is what Oakland in Oregon is named for.

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      1. Interesting! I can spot white oaks in the winter because they have such a striking architecture. The burr oaks I’ve seen are usually huge and deep in the woods. I have never seen an Oregon white oak.

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      2. Although I am not certain I believe that the Oregon white oak resembles (in appearance) the common white oak. It also resembles our valley oak, but on a smaller scale.

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