Tom's Blog

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Confusing colors of the oaks

Today was peak fall color at Pleasant Valley Conservancy and the oaks were in their full glory. I continue to be puzzled by the oak colors, because there are so many different colors and hues. Some of the variation in color is probably related to species, but when you see two oaks of the same species side by side, you sometimes wonder.

We have three major species of oak, and a minor one. The two most important (because they are long-lived and have the characteristic open-grown form of the savannas) are bur and white oak. Although bur oak is probably the most characteristic of a savanna, it is a complete disappointment as far as fall color is concerned. The leaves turn a mottled yellow and brown and then fall to the ground. No photo of a bur oak in this blog.

The red-colored leaves in the photo to the left are from a small white oak. You can tell that the oak in this photo is a white because it has rounded lobes.

Two other oaks we have are black and red. Although some of the black oaks are nicely colored, many are just a dirty brown, such as the one in the photo below. Finally, the oak with the orange leaves is a "red" oak. You can tell it is not a white because its lobes are pointed rather than rounded. Confusing that the white oak leaves are red and the red oak leaves are orange, but that seems to be the way it is.

However, the oak in the top photo is a red oak that looks its part. This small tree, at the edge of Toby's Prairie, contrasts strikingly with the "green" oaks in the background (which are actually "whites"!).

To make things more confusing, black and red oaks sometimes hybridize. In fact, some of our confusingly colored oaks might actually be hybrids.


Blogger IamJesus said...

Great Great post... I really felt the vibe spiritually and physically as well. When I read your post, it brings joy to my heart and soul. It makes me want to go back home and talk to all of my children of heaven who are young and fruitful. Praise the lord

November 24, 2008 at 8:36 AM  

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