Tree Following: January 2015

I’m following a tree this year with Lucy at Loose and Leafy. The tree I’ll be following for the next thirteen months (wow, that seems like a long time!) is a Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii). It’s a type of deciduous Red Oak. This particular specimen was already in our back yard when we moved into our house nineteen years ago, so I’d say it’s twenty-five years old at the very least.

This tree drops its leaves in the winter following the first really hard freezes, so it’s totally bare right now. It usually takes the leaves a while to fall, as they turn a beautiful shade of golden brown then begin dropping as they get heavy with moisture from rain or snow or from being blown by gusty winds. The bark is both smooth and rough at the same time, if that makes any sense! And the huge amount of acorns the tree produces provides lots of winter food for wildlife. They’re also fun to step on once they get dry because the crunch they make sounds spectacular!

The tree has a trunk circumference of 30 inches and stands probably 25-30 feet tall. Some of its limbs have been trimmed over the years because they tend to stretch out and grow relatively quickly, swallowing up the narrow space where the tree grows. We actually have three of these trees — the one that I’m following, one behind our back fence and one in the front yard — and this one is by far the smallest! Shumard Oaks are  really beautiful trees, forming a canopy of brilliant dark green leaves during the summer and offering an inviting home for birds and squirrels. When photographing this particular tree I was really surprised to find no nests whatsoever. Maybe this will be the year that some creature decides to move in!

treefollowing
I’M FOLLOWING A TREE

Thanks very much to Lucy at Loose and Leafy for hosting Tree Following. Want to join in? Click on the link for information on how to get started!

 

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20 thoughts on “Tree Following: January 2015

  1. So glad you’re also tree following–I’ve enjoyed my 3 months so far and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned about my Retama that I had no idea of. I also have Shumards, two of them–most beautiful trees. We planted our in 1988(?) after several days of hard (really hard for us–3-5 degrees over several days) and we lost our Chinese Tallows–no loss there! Our little Shumards were just sticks and now, they shade most of the back yard, provide so much for wildlife and have beautiful fall (and winter–those leaves are still on!) color. Looking forward to reading more about your tree.

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    • Thanks. The Tree Following looks quite interesting so far and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. I’ve been reading yours and several others for a while now and the posts are so full of interesting info. The Shumard Oaks are really reliable through heat, cold and drought. We also planted a Chinese Pistache a number of years back that I’m very fond of.

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  2. I am so looking forward to learning more about your tree. I have an oak growing here and it clings onto its leaves. It is usually the last to change colour and the last to finally drop. The birds and squirrels here just love the oak. Whwnever I want to get a photo of some wild thing it is my go-to spot.

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    • You brought a smile to my face with your comment about your go-to spot. I guess we all have them. Our oaks get so full and bushy that it’s usually pretty difficult to see anything way up inside them during the summer. But I do like their fall leaves.

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  3. Good for you. As you know I followed a willow last year, and other trees before that.
    I’ve found that tree following is interesting and informative. I will enjoy reading your posts on this tree. xx

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    • Thanks for visiting. I look forward to Tree Following and expect to enjoy it. I visited your blog and took a look at your tree. It’s quite pretty and I hope to learn more about it. Also enjoyed the squirrel and the Thrush. I believe the Thrush is related to our American Robin. They have the same features except for their coloring. I tried to leave a comment but couldn’t get it to take! I think it had something to do with my Open ID; I have that problem at times for some reason! Anyway, good to hear from you and again, thanks for visiting!

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    • Every year, though some years the crop is larger than others. There have been times when my husband has had to rake the acorns together and use a shovel to gather them up to dispose of them because there have been so many. Other years it’s not so bad! The really great thing about these trees is that they’re very drought tolerant. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  4. Hello Anna! I am very glad to meet you and look forward to seeing your Shumard Oak in all its stages of glory. I’ve always felt there is something special about oak trees. Maybe because I love the shape of the acorns and their little beret caps! I’ve seen photos of ancient oaks in England that are massive and incredibly beautiful. It seems they, like olive trees, can live for centuries. In Southern California we have scrub oaks, smaller and scrubbier, but I don’t know about the Shumard.

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    • Thanks Sara! I love oak trees because they’re so sturdy. They’re like pillars that are immovable, always there. The Shumard is native to the more eastern and central parts of Texas, so I guess we’re a little bit out of the normal area, but most nurseries sell them throughout the state so they’ve become very popular all over. The native range extends east toward the Carolinas and into Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. They can grow to over 100 feet tall (guess ours all have a ways to go!) and I read in one article that some are known to have lived up to 480 years! I certainly won’t be around to find that out! We also have a lot of scrub oaks and other larger oaks in Texas, but I think these big Shumards are one of the best trees around. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m also looking forward to hearing and seeing more of your jacaranda. We have those in south Texas. They’re not cold tolerant so I don’t think they’d survive here in north Texas. I look forward to seeing what yours looks like in bloom.

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  5. Welcome to Tree Following and I look forward to seeing how your tree progresses over the year. It will be interesting to see if there are any differences to the English Oaks that I’m familiar with (I’ve already spotted one – the acorns are more rounded on English Oaks, without the pointed end). Best wishes

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  6. I’m rather envious of your acorns. The oaks near me are the ‘wrong’ kind’ (from my point of view). One is a Turkey Oak – and I’ve never once seen an acorn on it. The others are Holm Oaks – evergreens which don’t even look like oaks and which produce very few (at least the ones near me have hardly any).

    The photo with the little house and bench helped me in imagining your tree and getting a proper idea of its size.

    So pleased you’ve joined us in following a tree for a year. I’ve only seen red oaks in illustrations in books so far – which is very impersonal.

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    • Thanks, Lucy! I’m looking forward to providing info on my oak. Living in an area that has a lot of these trees, and other types of oaks, I guess I’ve just taken them for granted over the years. I’ve been around oak trees everywhere I’ve lived. We also have what is called a Live Oak — I think there are a number of species referred to by the same name — which is an evergreen, has very small leaves and has never made an acorn that I can remember. It does send shoots up everywhere else in the front yard, which I hate!

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  7. There is something irresistible about Oaks… the acorns, the shape of the leaves and the slow, deliberate growth rate. They always invoke a strong feeling of nostalgia for me.

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