Happy Oaktober y’all! While Fall Showstopper trees usually received the bulk of the attention this time of year (never mind 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.
Like many trees we plant for free in our residential planting programs, the nuttall oak, Quercus nuttallii, is a highly-adaptable, underused, tough urban shade tree. Nuttall oak leaves plenty of head room beneath its branches, making an excellent lawn, patio, or street tree. It doesn’t develop surface roots and won’t invade water lines. For this reason, it’s one of the most well-adapted oaks for general landscape use!
Plus, maples are rightly recognized as the best shade tree for fall color, but nuttall oak is no slouch. Its deeply lobed leaves turn bright red in mid- to late fall, usually after the maples have dropped.
Nuttall oaks are like other oaks and prefer sunny locations. While it also has a slow to moderate growth rate, it reaches mature height of 40 feet in only 30 to 40 years (as opposed to taller oaks that take longer to mature).