Thursday, June 8, 2017
The Bear Oak - Quercus ilicifolia
The Bear Oak-Quercus ilicifolia is a small deciduous tree that is most easily identified by it's love of rocky habitat and leaves with a hairy lower surface. It grows in a small tree or gangly shrub form with a densely rounded crown. It does not exceed 40 feet tall but only averages around 15-20 feet tall and generally has one or more short contorted trunks.
Range map/Image Citation: By Elbert L. Little, Jr., USGS - USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center: Digital Representations of Tree Species Range Maps from "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. (and other publications), Public Domain,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29177004
The leaves are Alternate, simple, ovate or elliptic with a wedge shaped base and shallow margins. The upper leaf surface is dark green and slightly lustrous while the lowers are paler and visibly hairy. The fall leaf coloring starts as a yellow green but changes to a lovely yellow with the season. The fruit is an acorn, with a cup that is 10-17 mm deep enclosing 1/4 to 1/2 of the nut. The nut of the acorn is egg shaped with very faint vertical striping. Acorns are often produced in large abundant crops, probably as a result of the harsh conditions that the tree grows in. Bear Oak is monoecious, with both male and female flowers being found on the same plant. Male flowers are catkins and female flowers are borne in clusters or singly, the female flowers are produced on current-year's growth
Image Citation: Will Cook, Carolina Nature.com published 2010-http://www.carolinanature.com/trees/quil.html
The Bear Oak is native to the North Eastern United States and can be found from Ontario to Main in the North and West Virginia to Virginia in the South. Bear Oak can be found growing in CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, VT, VA, and WV. It prefers dry soils, mountainous terrain and rocky outcroppings. Individual above ground trunks or stems of the Bear Oak are not long living. Maturing to only about 20 years of age, they arise from one single long lived taproot that can be as thick as 20 cm in diameter and reach as deep down in the ground as 3 feet. The Bear Oak is adapt to hybridizing with various members of the Red Oak family. The Bear Oak species is considered threatened in North Carolina and is on the Endangered list in Vermont.