Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Swamp Oak

Swamp Oak, Quercus bicolor, has been kind of a tough call for me. I first came across one of these species up at the north end of the lake way back in April. That tree was apparently killed off by massive numbers of galls; it did not leaf out this year.

I've been visiting with this southern end specimen throughout the summer, never sure on an ID. On Monday I picked up more photos after a dried leaf drifted down and landed in front of me. Yesterday after work, I thought I'd wrap up the ID but still didn't feel sure. So out I went again on a quick jaunt, a mission to collect enough evidence to nail this down.

Curiously, I could not find even one acorn. I know, I know! Acorns are heavy on both the reds and whites! So without the fruit, I went mostly on leaves--four to six lobes on each side, a bit of fuzziness on the silvery leaf underside, and rounded (not pointed, that is) buds.

From The North American Sylva:

"The acorns are sweet, but seldom abundant; they are rather large, of a brown complexion, and contained in a spreading cup edged with short, slender filaments, more downy within than those of any other Oak, and supported by peduncles one or two inches in length.

"The trunk is clad in a scaly grayish-white bark. The wood is strong, elastic, and heavier than that of the White Oak. In stocks more than a foot in diameter the grain is fine and close and the pores are nearly obliterated. It splits easily and in a straight line, and is esteemed next in quality to the White Oak, though from its rareness it is but accidentally employed in the arts."

I found a second tree. Same deal--no acorns!

It's happening already. Sundowns are coming noticeably early; this shot was from on the way back home. Soon I will be losing my after work sessions; I'll be down to days off and weekends. I'm taking a week off in a few weeks time for an intense collection marathon.

Michaux, F. Andrew. The North American Sylva. Philadelphia, 1865. 42-3. Web. Google Book Search. 29 Sep 2009.

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