Thursday, March 10, 2016

Meet the Shingle Oak - Quercus imbricaria

The Shingle Oak -Quercus imbricaria  is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights of 60-85 foot tall.  It is most easily distinguished by it's oblong, dark green leaves with a hairy underside and comparatively long petiole.  It grows in an upright form with a single erect trunk and rounded crown, they are generally broader then they are tall.  The lowest branches often droop down nearing the ground, similar to the growth habit of the Pin Oak.  It is native to the dry/moist slopes, river banks, and stream areas of the Mid-Atlantic to Mid Western states of the US, from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin in the North to North Eastern Texas and Western North Carolina in the South.  

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

The bark of the Shingle Oak is a gray-brown in color it is shallow and narrowly furrowed.  The leaves are alternate, leathery, stiff, and simply shaped elliptical or oblong with a sharp or bluntly pointed tip. The upper surface of the leaves are more lustrous then the lower surfaces which generally have a coating of fine hair.  The blades of the leaves are generally around 8-20 cm long and 2-7 cm broad.  The fruit occurs as an acorn. The Shingle Oak acorns are shallow and cupped, 5-9 mm deep with 1/3 to 1/2 of the dark brown nut enclosed under cap.  

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

The Shingle Oak is recommended for hardiness zones 4-8.  It is a member of the Red Oak family, it's leaves are most similar to those of the Willow Oak.  Early settlers used the lumber of the tree to make Shingles for their homes and other structures, this is believed to be how the tree got it's interesting name.  Shingle Oak is considered to be one of the best and most reliable oaks, but it is not commonly used despite it's positive traits.  It makes a good park, street or single specimen tree. It also adapts well to pruning and has persistent leaves which makes it useful as a hedgerow tree.  The fall coloring of the Shingle Oak is not one of the most notable, however the trees nice form and interesting leaf shapes give the tree interest year round.

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