Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Post Oak - Quercus stellata

The Post Oak - Quercus stellata is a deciduous tree that is 32 - 65 feet tall. It grows in an upright erect fashion with generally a single trunk. The crown grows in a rounded form, spreading and ascending, openly branched with a somewhat gnarled appearance. It is native and typically occurs in dry, upland, sandy or gravelly woods, or in dry, mixed deciduous forests from 0-1500 m. The Post Oak can be found from Massachusetts to Iowa in the North and Florida and Texas in the South.  The Post Oak has a very high wildlife value, it's acorns provide high energy winter food for Wild Turkey, Whitetail Deer, Squirrels and other small woodland rodents.  The trunk cavities provide good nesting sites for birds and small mammals. The leaves, buds and acorns are however toxic to cattle, sheep and goats.  

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

The Post Oak is most easily identified by its cross shaped leaves with rectangular lobes.  The leaves are alternate, simple and vary in size, they are U shaped or tapered at the bases.  The upper leaf surfaces are lustrous, dark green and have the texture of a fine grained sand paper.  The fruit is an acorn with a cup ranging in size from 7-18 mm deep, this cup encases 1/3 - 2/3 of the nut.  The acorns are generally a light brown in color and are egg shaped or rounded.  The bark is grayish in color, dull, irregularly furrowed and moderately scaly.  The buds are a reddish brown in color and egg shaped or rounded.  

Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.org
Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

The Post Oak can be planted anywhere in hardiness zones 6-9 (about half of the United States), though it is not Native to all of these areas.  The branches of the trees begin to droop with age and will require pruning/elevation to maintain clearance for traffic and pedestrians below.  The Post Oak will require minimal pruning in order to develop a strong structure. It prefers full sun, and has a high tolerance to drought and various soil conditions. The wood is often marketed as White Oak when sold as firewood.

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