Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Place For Hybrid Oaks

Whenever I hear of or come across a source for hybrid oaks I want to highlight it. Rhora's Nut Tree Farm & Nursery offers a large selection of hybrid oaks.  The descriptions lack the Latin names that an oak geek like me prefers to see, but most give the two parents.  An exception is Sargent Oak, which is an English (Q. robur) X chestnut (Q. prinus) cross.

The descriptions provide a window into what is possible with hybrid oaks, and shatter the myth of the "slow growing oak."  Even making an allowance for the hyperbole that oak enthusiasts in their zeal sometimes propagate, the growth and performance of these hybrid trees is staggering.  Acorns in 4 years. Acorns in 4 years.  Acorns in 5-8 years.  500 to 1000 lbs of acorns per tree.  800 to 1000 lbs of acorns per tree (that's 15+ bushels for those of you keeping score at home).

I know I have said this a million times, but... think of it!  These trees are the result of a single selection and cross.  The hybrid corn planted today is the culmination of 8000+ years of intensive selection, nearly 100 years of intensive hybridization (the primary goal of which is to produce patentable intellectual property that doesn't grow "true" from the seed it produces), and 20-30 years of genetic engineering. 

Give me oaks with their willingness and ability to "hybridize" (and as always I use the term loosely since I don't believe we're actually crossing any true species boundary when we cross, say, white oak with bur oak), and give me 8000 years and by the end of that time I'll have them doing everything but singing show tunes.  And that's only because I don't like show tunes.

In the meantime let's patronize the nurseries who are doing the yeoman's work of producing and selling hybrid oaks!

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