Thread: Interesting find

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  1. #1
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
    Posts
    300

    Interesting find

    I've been doing a lot of observations lately in the woods around our cabin, checking out what species are growing and comparing various parts of the forest.

    Our cabin lies on an isthmus between a medium sized and a small lake. The two are connected by a small channel about 10 feet wide and 15 long that is only full in high water years.

    For this reason, the trees are prone to windthrow allowing sun to reach the under story, so sun-loving species keep regenerating over time. Right now, the main part of the forest I'm talking about is in a low lying area with well drained, rich, moist soil that is subject to occasional flooding or a very high water table.

    While Bur Oak is pretty common in the area (and the only "white oak" species that technically grows in the area), I haven't seen any of them near our cabin, likely because one has to travel several hundred feet before you come across another one. Also, the plentiful soil moisture allows non-drought tolerant species to thrive, probably keeping bur oak out.

    I did find one tree behind our cabin that was an oak, though obviously not a red oak. At first glance, I assumed it was a bur oak since they are, again, the only non-red oak species that grows this far north in Minnesota.

    Today, however, I took a closer look after I found several saplings in the area that were not red oaks. I thought they could possibly be poison oak, but I wanted to check that one "bur" oak since it was hte only one of any size near our cabin (about 50-60 feet tall). The tree has a very long, straight bole with a relatively compact crown.

    I pulled a leaf off, and noticed that it didn't have the usual deep lobe towards the base of hte leaf that Bur Oaks have. The leaf has shallow furrows and is rather round looking for an oak tree.

    While I don't have a picture of hte actual leaf, this leaf is identical to the one I pulled off hte tree:



    The whole reason I bring this up is because this species is not native to the area. Swamp White Oak have a range that hugs the Mississippi River valley in SE Minnesota up to Minneapolis/St. Paul with a few isolated pockets elsewhere int he state, the closest being about 90 miles south of here.

    Should I report this tree to the DNR? The tree is quite large (DBH is about 1 foot) and the tree is 50-60 feet tall.. so this tree is pretty old. Also, I've counted about 5 saplings in the woods by that tree that I believe are swamp white oak.

    Any advice would be helpful. It's a beautiful, sturdy, healthy tree.. I'm just at a loss as to how it would have gotten there.

  2. #2
    Oak
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Knoxville,Tn
    Posts
    356

    RE: Interesting find

    Looks similar to Cestnut Oak. Could be Chinkapin Oak. If all those leaves are too similar the nuts will give it away this fall.

  3. #3
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: Interesting find

    Definitely one of the chestnut oaks: there are several different types with similar leaves. Based on the location, I'd say a swamp chestnut oak.

  4. #4

    RE: Interesting find

    If the tree is located in Northern Minnesota then it could not be a swamp chestnut oak or any of the chestnut oaks unless it was planted. It would have to be a Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor).

    If your tree has more than 10 to 15 lobes on each leaf then it it not a Swamp white oak. If it has 10 -15 or less then it should be a Swamp white oak.

    If the trees is not close to any of the areas on this map it could be a small isolated Swamp white oak patch that was missed or was never mapped.

  5. #5
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
    Posts
    300

    RE: Interesting find

    I'm gonna be out there in a little bit. I'll try to get another leaf or two off the tree and see if I can find any stray acorns around and I'll try to get a picture or two.

    It is definitely not Chinkapin Oak or Swamp Chestnut, since the leaves don't match up at all and their native ranges are even further away.

  6. #6
    Oak
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    290

    RE: Interesting find

    I've been doing a lot of observations lately in the woods around our cabin, checking out what species are growing and comparing various parts of the forest.
    Wow, other people do that too? I'd like to hang out with you guys and not feel weird. I do this, and when people look at me like I'm strange and I tell them I'm doing tree identification, they think I'm lying and up to something. Once I was walking along the road by the river looking at different kinds of trees, and a cop drove up and asked me who I was waiting for and what I was doing. I told him I was looking for different kinds of trees, and you should have seen his head jerk back in shock and disbelief. He must have thought I was waiting for a drug or deal or a john or something like that. He actually told me to get in my car and leave, and he didn't drive off until he saw I was gone. What a shame to get taken for a crook IDing trees. But I guess since most people couldn't tell one from another and don't care others can't believe a person would do this just for fun.

  7. #7
    Oak
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Central Oklahoma - Zone 7 for now
    Posts
    548

    RE: Interesting find

    'lovetrees: I have been 'approached' numerous times at two different courthouses/town-squares in bordering towns that were numerous-species planted and older 'specimens' all around. I'd kill time while wife shopped by taking a walk amongst the plants/trees nearby. Every cop that came out of building(s) came over to "Help me" and I asked 'em all if *they* knew what kind of hawthorne that was...got a lot of funny looks, and they all said it wasn't a problem walking on grass, so they moved along with me smiling at 'em. I thought it rude how all of the cops approached with a 'he-is-guilty' look/air about them - typical here, though, and you get accustomed to it.

    I'll obfuscate things here by saying that the leaf pic'd looks *exactly* like many Oak youngsters underfoot here when I go tromping through the woods. *Lots* of chinkapin here...but that really means little, huh? What are chances that that Oak pic'd is a 'hybrid' of cross-pollination and/or mutation? I once saw an article that listed so many sub-ID's of Oaks that I closed the article and 'officially' gave up on Oaks...seriously. I got the impression that things are so confusing overall that it is easier to say "a type of 'insert wild guess' Oak from this area" or similar statement. But I say this half in jest, of course, and hope that this ID is more well-defined

    Of no help whatsoever,
    Alex

  8. #8
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: Interesting find

    I still think that's a chestnut oak--it is entirely possible that they've been planted in the area. They are quite prolific once established. But, so are the swamp white oaks. They, too, are widely planted as ornamentals.

    I pulled a leaf off of a 150-year-old chestnut oak and it looks identical to what you posted. But I also looked at a couple of my bur oak saplings and their leaves are so similar that I can't be sure!

    Since it is a mature tree, you'll be able to gather more information for identification this fall. If you still can't tell, it might be worth asking your DNR forester about it.

  9. #9
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: Interesting find

    I'll obfuscate things here by saying that the leaf pic'd looks *exactly* like many Oak youngsters underfoot here when I go tromping through the woods. *Lots* of chinkapin here...but that really means little, huh? What are chances that that Oak pic'd is a 'hybrid' of cross-pollination and/or mutation? I once saw an article that listed so many sub-ID's of Oaks that I closed the article and 'officially' gave up on Oaks...seriously. I got the impression that things are so confusing overall that it is easier to say "a type of 'insert wild guess' Oak from this area" or similar statement. But I say this half in jest, of course, and hope that this ID is more well-defined
    I know exactly what you mean! And, if you're in an forest where oaks are dominant, it is easy to see how they produce those confusing hybrids. I've spent long hours sitting under a tree, looking at leaves, bark, counting lobes, getting a headache from too many tree books!

    But snowguy wants a definitive answer . . . "oak" just won't do in this case! We all agree on that, though, right? It IS an oak!

  10. #10

    RE: Interesting find

    We have tons of Chestnut Oaks in our woods, and we have a wild Saul oak (Q. alba x Q. prinus) Which is a cross between a White Oak and a Chestnut Oak and it is very cool. It is pretty easy to tell the difference between a Swamp white Oak and a Chestnut, Chinkapin, or Swamp Chestnut Oak snowguy because they all have many more lobes that are normally small and pointed which Swamp White Oak has less lobes and much more rounded lobes.

    Chestnut Oak:



    Swamp white oak:

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