Tree Blog

Quercus nigra | Stanford

In the small exotic oak grove near the Frost Amphitheater at Stanford, a Water Oak (Q. nigra) from the southeastern US, proves a remarkably nice tree. This particular specimen is mostly a late-deciduous oak type, though it typically holds some green leaves in the lower canopy over the winter. Here it can be seen in its full summer foliage. A primary drawback to this species is a propensity to weak branch attachments. When Katrina hit New Orleans, Water Oak, and Southern Live Oak, were two of the most common trees. In the aftermath of Katrina, many of the Water Oak suffered extreme structural damage, while the Southern Live Oaks came through relatively unscathed. Interestingly, study of Water Oak throughout its range suggests that the tree is particularly weak and decay-prone in the wettest part of the trees' range, where growth is most rapid, while at the drier western edge of the trees' range, the trees grow more slowly, and appear to stronger and live longer. This tree, growing in the dry at Stanford, but with some access to groundwater, may well be a century or more old, far outliving Water Oaks within their native range. 

Dave Muffly