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An Ode to the Red Oak Tree

Red Oak Tree

We British love our big Oak trees, whether it be Sessile Oak or Pedunculate (Common or English) Oak. But if you want the majesty of an oak tree with a little more interest, then the Red Oak tree could be for you.

The Northern Red Oak tree (Quercus rubra) is actually a native of North America which the great Victorian plant hunters brought back for us to enjoy in our gardens. The 'red' moniker refers not only to the unusual red tinge to the timber, but also to the glorious autumn display when the trees' leaves turn a lovely colour ranging from orange-brown to red.

Like most oak trees, the Red Oak is quite a quick starter and will grow to 6 metres within only 10 years before slowing down and settling into middle age. I have some sympathy! It also looks very much like a native oak tree although is probably better suited to our little island as it grows narrower and straighter than our native oak trees, meaning it will take up less space in your garden. The bark looks much the same as on English Oak, being deeply fissured although the tops of the fissures are smoother and flatter, which can be much appreciated by tree huggers and they caress the gnarly trunk.
But the advantages of choosing Red Oak over our native oaks don't stop there. If you are growing just for beauty, then you will also enjoy your tree in the spring, when the little leaves first poke out after the hard winter they will have a delightful pink colour, showing themselves to be full of the joy of a new season. There are also more prosaic reasons for liking the Red Oak tree. Our poor native oak trees are currently under attack from a number of harmful pests and diseases including OPM moth, Acute Oak Decline and Sudden Oak Death. Red Oak does of course have its own problems, particularly from the gypsy moth, but planting it may provide insurance against some of the pests and diseases attacking our native oak trees.
So there are many reasons to love the beautiful Red Oak tree, so if you are thinking about planting a nice tree which will grow quickly and be there for generations to come, think red and get yourself a red oak tree. Your grandchildren will thank you for it as they give it a big hug!

10 October 2013 at 10:59 / Comment

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