This scrappy little tree is known as scrub oak, or bear oak, the former for its gnarled appearance (or perhaps due to its habit of recolonizing dry sites that have been cut or burned), the later as it is said that only bears will eat the bitter acorns produced.
A rather short species, this tree rarely grows taller than 20 feet, and is often found in areas that have experienced multiple fires overall destruction. This “race-to-first” characteristic has an important ecological function when it comes to succession. The first to colonize a destroyed area are often fast growing, need little by way of nutrients in the soil, and can handle the driest conditions. In return, this tree provides shade for the soil, allowing other species to catch a break and begin growing, as well as provides valuable habitat for birds and small mammals.
The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) seek protection in stands of scrub oak during their molting season, for instance. Along with bird habitat, Quercus ilicifolia is also a larval host plant for quite a few rare and endangered Lepidoptera, which makes this scrubby little tree quite ecologically valuable.
ECO-TYPE: grown from seed potentially collected in New Hampshire. Original provenance unknown. Started by New Hampshire State Forest Nursery.
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Quercus ilicifolia (Scrub oak)
SIZE AND POT INFORMATION: More details coming in May type: tree sun needs: full sun water needs: dry soil height: 10-20' plant spacing: spacing 10'-15' apart bloom time: May, June bloom color: green note: very shade intolerant