Happy Oaktober y’all! While Fall Showstopper trees usually received the bulk of the attention this time of year (nevermind about pumpkin everything), we’re spending this month with a forestry powerhouse: the official tree of the United States of America, the oak! Formally recognized in 2004 (!) Congress named the Oak tree as our national tree. No species, just the genus Quercus. DC was a bit ahead of the game and recognized a tree in 1960. Believe it or not, it’s not a cherry tree- the scarlet oak is our official tree since we can’t exactly have a state tree.
With its straight trunk and round top, the overcup oak, Quercus lyrata, is a relatively unknown small to medium-sized shade tree that fits well into many small yards in Washington, DC. The overcup gets its name from its shaggy, ornate acorn cap that practically covers the whole fruit. That cap doesn’t deter wildlife though – the acorns are at the top of the food preference list for animals as small as squirrels and as large as white-tailed deer.
It’s a strong, sturdy oak tree that’s very easy to transplant and its survivability rates are really high so when it’s planted there’s a high chance it will grow into a large canopy tree. Also, because of its size, shape, adaptability and hardiness, it makes an excellent urban street tree. Overcup oaks need full sun and will reach approximately 30 feet in height in 40 years.