The KPRC Radio Gardenline Tip By Randy Lemmon For 10-21-04 Printer-Friendly Version
Laurel Oak Tree Takes Root On Top Trees List
Like most tip sheets on our website, they are adaptable to change, and so this week I want to formally make an addition to our TOP TREES tip sheet. So, after a few years of seeing the Laurel Oak (Quercus laurifolia) in action, I think it's fair time we add it to our Top Dozen Trees list (Okay, so that officially makes it a Baker's Dozen).
I think maybe the reason the Laurel Oak was not always a top recommendation in these parts, is because of its potential loss during very hard freezes when the tree is young. Which may also explains why it's predominantly found (doing very well, I might add) in most our southern listening area - south of I-10 towards the coast.
Laurel oak vs. Live oak
As it turns out, many people may already have a Laurel Oak, but think it's a live oak, since the leaves are strikingly similar - albeit a bit longer.
Another reason Laurel Oaks may have been avoided, in the past, is because of their propensity to produce massive amounts of acorns. And on Live Oak trees, that is often considered a sign of stress. For Laurel Oaks, it's just part of their everyday makeup. Which also means it's great landscape addition for folks who are interested in provided food resources for wildlife.
The two best attributes for the Laurel Oak are its rapid growth rate and their thick canopy. Which means, that it can make an immediate impact "Shade Tree." I've seen many Laurel Oaks lately in the Pasadena area that have been in the ground for less than ten years, but are already more than 40 feet tall. And they can end up growing to over 60 feet very easily. The "shade impact" attribute comes from its very dense canopy. Whereas, a Live Oak needs to be thinned and trained upwards, the Laurel Oak does not.
Thanks to breeding programs, I do believe that the Laurel Oak can and will withstand slight freezes for its first few years, but once established can even endure mightier freezes should they come.
After talking to a local tree farm expert (Jon Matthews with Shades of Texas), I truly believe this tree can and should be part of our discussions about a tree that can establish quickly, provide ample shade and is adaptable to our soil conditions. But as Mr. Matthews pointed out, please make sure that it is a true Laurel Oak with the Latin name - Quercus laurifolia. As is often the case, mass merchandisers can label something "Laurel Oak," but it may not be a true Quercus Laurifolia. If you've listened to GardenLine enough over the years, this same problem has existed for years when trying to find a Green Ash or Texas Ash. In many cases, mass merchandisers will label an Arizona Ash incorrectly. And I don't recommend Arizona Ashes at all.
If you've never seen out Top Trees List on the GardenLine Web page, then take a look at all of our recommendations, especially with the addition of the Laurel Oak.
< http://www.950kprc.com/gardenline-dozentrees.html >
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
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