We have so many native oaks in Georgia that folks don’t usually need to turn to others when choosing trees for their landscapes. Still sometimes people do, particularly if a landscape designer is involved and wants to use something unusual (although lately it seems like using a native better fits the goal of using something unusual as so many landscapes use the same non-native plants over and over).
|Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)|
I came across an unusual oak recently and, while it is native to the US, it is not native to Georgia. I was in the parking lot of a restaurant not too far from me and spied some large acorns on the ground. They had a noticeable fringe around the outer edge of the cap, so that really got my attention.
There are two oaks that have a fringed look: bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima). Neither is native to Georgia, but bur oak can be found in Alabama, according to USDA. Sawtooth oak is native to eastern Asia and was brought to the US as an ornamental or as a wildlife food source.
|Sawtooth oak (not native to US)|
I have occasionally found sawtooth oak in parking lots, even just a few miles from this one. The leaves are noticeably different than what I was seeing here. They are long and slender with jagged teeth.
The bur oak has lobed leaves and a considerably larger acorn. The ones that I examined were almost square: equally wide as they were long. The biggest bur oak acorn was 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches (with the cap still on).
I was excited to realize that I was actually seeing bur oak; I never expected to come across one of these in Georgia. It was surprising to see it being used as a landscape tree.
There were 4 trees in all and they were bearing a good crop of acorns even though it didn’t seem like they should be very old (that parking lot is about 15 years old). They ranged in size from 24-29 inches around (7.6-9.2 DBH) at 4.5 feet.
If you’d like to read some of my previous blogs about oaks that I have found in Georgia, here are links to them: