Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fast Growing Oaks - Red oak street tree

(Click photos to enlarge)

You know how sometimes you look at a tree and, without knowing its history, you can just tell it has been growing really fast?

In part it's what your trained eyes are telling you: The terminal leader and other terminal shoots have shot out away from the crown before lateral growth can catch up.

In part it's just a feeling the tree gives off - almost as though it's just vibrating with growth energy.

As I said in my previous post, my schedule worked out the last few days so that I could take our baby son for a stroller walk over the lunch hour. We followed some streets that I don't usually drive, and went to a park we don't usually go to. I was highly encouraged by the number and variety of oaks that the city of Northfield (MN) has planted on the boulevards: swamp white, northern red, bur, and pin (Q. palustris - and many are doing well despite that fact that in many cases in Minnesota they become chlorotic for want of iron in our higher ph soils).

It was one particular northern red oak I saw that gave off this feeling - and, upon closer inspection of bud scars, the evidence - of incredibly fast growth. Notice I didn't say "unusually fast growth." That's because fast growth for oaks is not at all unusual - it's just the widely held and almost wholly incorrect perception. There are dozens of red oaks planted around town that give off the same feeling.

It's not hard to see what's fueling the fast growth; Good Lord, the thing has leaves the size of serving trays!
And it has a very large quantity of large acorns, at a relatively young age... many of which are now in my fridge, waiting for spring planting.

Life is good.