Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tree ID: Quercus palustris (pin oak)

If you want to start learning your oak trees this is a great one to start with. This is a young pin oak, Quercus palustris. On this foggy morning on the way to work I was elated to find this little guy because you can see one of the most interesting aspects of this particular species. Pin oaks have an attractive pyramidal habit in their youth and it's due to their unique branching. The lower limbs are pendulous, or weep slightly, the central limbs are horizontal, and the upper limbs point upwards toward the sky. Now you might think all trees limbs grow that way, as I did at one point in time, but as you reexamine your local trees you will see that this habit is really quite unique to pin oaks, and therefore makes them relatively easy to identify in the landscape. Most pin oaks planted in parks and yards can get limbed-up (the lower limbs pruned off to allow for easier passage underneath) so you eventually lose this quick indicator, perhaps another reason I was excited to find this specimen posing so perfectly this morning.

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