Oaktopia

Tree Blog

Quercus frainetto | Palo Alto

The sometimes-available form of Q. frainetto available in the nursery industry is ‘Forest Green’. Unfortunately, it cannot be recommended for further planting, as death of the cultivar, after a decade or more of growth, is frighteningly common. These are graft failures, far in excess of any reasonable standard. From the resprouts which appear from the rootstock after graft failures, it's evident the trees are grafted onto Q. robur and its cultivars. A simple look at the Wikipedia page for oaks will show that Q. frainetto and Q. robur are not in the same oak subgenus. This is an obvious vulnerability, and has been heartbreaking for those who’ve tended these trees for decades, only to watch them suddenly die. The other available Q. frainetto cultivar, ‘Trump’, holds its dead brown leaves all winter, prompting most people in coastal California to think the tree is dead. This is marcessance, an unwelcome trait in climates where this foliar state is uncommon. ‘Trump’ has a poor growth habit, and is very difficult to train into a serviceable shape.

Dave Muffly