Tree of the Week: The Bio-ETC Red Oak

A Courtyard Canopy

Quercus rubra, also called Northern Red Oak or Champion Oak, is native to the central and eastern United States. It is a highly valued timber tree for its uses as siding lumber and veneer. The grain of a Red Oak’s wood is so open that on a flat-sawn board, smoke that is blown into one end of the grain will emerge on the other side.

Quercus rubra has been shown to possess a symbiotic relationship with Ascomycota, a ball-shaped type of fungi that grow around the base of the tree and promote its growth rates. However, this symbiosis exists in only two oak species: Red Oak and Chestnut Oak.

Red Oak is currently the fourth most impactful invasive species in central Europe, where it has colonized woodland reserves of native English Oak (Quercus robur) across Belgium, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania. Its growth was originally encouraged due to its high value as a timber species, but over time it has come to threaten the persistence of native plant species. Red Oak grows fast and depletes soil nutrients more quickly than local tree species, and tends to outcompete them for resources.

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