Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oglethorpe Oak

Chances are you haven't heard of Oglethorpe oak (Quercus oglethorpensis Duncan).  And I'd bet big money you've never seen one.  Neither have I.

The entire range of Oglethorpe oak appears to be some dude's back yard in NE Georgia, with a single tree growing across the border in South Carolina.

According to Oaks of North America, "When without leaves, it could be mistaken for white oak (ed: the leaves are not lobed).  It has the usual attraction for wildlife, but is a very low producer of acorns and is susceptible to fire damage.  The total population of Oglethorpe is low.  Due to very poor acorn production, seedlings are rare... There are no recognized hybrids of the Oglethorpe oak, but several observations point to a possible cross with white oak."

Let's rewind some of that, shall we?

Wildlife love it, except it doesn't produce many acorns.  Got it.

The total population is low.  Yes, because it has a native range the size of a football field.

Acorn production is low... seedlings are rare... no known hybrids... but observations point to a possible cross with white oak.  Isn't it just possible that Ogelthorpe oak is, itself, a hybrid of white oak and something else - and a not especially successful one at that (or perhaps one better adapted to a different climatic era in which the cross took place)?

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