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Clarke on Science
* First law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
* Second law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
* Third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke

McBaine Big Bur Oak

This one is in Missouri. This champion bur oak has a circumference of 295 inches, is 74 feet tall, and has a crown spread of 129 feet. Most don't get this big.

Admiration Oak branch.

When it gets mature, the bark breaks off in chunks, as the trunk inside expands. This isn't harmful to the tree.

Another large example. You may think I have a thing for big trees. You'd be right.

Bur oak in my arboretum. Come for a visit. I'll introduce you.

Dogwood (Red) are a good way to protect oak (Orange) from deer. Pack several dogwood around the base. Deer will go after the dogwood in preference to the oak.

Colour is variable. Compare this to the oak above. Haven't figured out what makes for a red year.

Black Walnut Butternut

Oak & Walnut

Quercus & Juglans

These two species are lumped together for a variety of reasons:

Oaks

The oaks are broadly divided into "White Oaks" and "Red Oaks" It doesn't help that the archtypical example of each are White Oak and Red Oak.

The white oaks (note the 's') have round lobed leaves. Their acorns can germinate as soon as they hit the ground. Bur Oak and White Oak are the two I've run into locally. Fall colour in a good year is a dusty dark red. In a bad year, dishwater.

The red oaks have points on the lobes. Aside from the colour they look very goth. Red oaks often have spectacular fall colour.

White Oak

*(The tree, not the group...) Fall colour is a wine red. Nuts are up to an inch in diameter. Squirrels and blue jays love the acorns. This may be a feature or not. Does not tolerate wet soils. Does not transplant well from field grown due to taproot.

Bur Oak

This one is almost a native. Currently found in creek valleys in southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and a bit in SE Alberta. Gets to be large: up to 80 feet high, and the same wide. This means that one tree can not only shade your front yard, but also the street, and the neighbours on either side.

Bur oak is the best one for alkaline soils, actually does best in a somewhat alkaline soil. It tolerates mildly acid soils. It is often used as a root stock for fancier oaks.

Does NOT like salt.

More info: https://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-plant-descriptions/bur-oak

Top Gun Bur Oak. This cultivar has short branches. All it's energy is focused on getting taller.

'Top Gun' Bur Oak.

This is a columnar version that typically remains 4 times as tall as it is wide. Eventually will get to 65 feet tall x 15 feet wide.

'Admiration' hybrid oak.

This is a natural hybrid probably of white oak and swamp oak. Hardy to zone 2. Pyramidal crown. Shaggy bark. Leaves turn golden in fall, fading to a hot chocolate red/brown. Leaves can persist all winter on the tree.

Red oaks

Northern Red Oak

According to the Morden Arboretum, this oak should do well here. Zone 3, tolerates clay, alkaline soils. Mature height 60-75 feet. Tolerates some soil salt, acid soils. Pink leaves at bud break, russet to red in fall. One of the faster growing oaks. Haven't seen it sold here. Native to American midwest.

'Shooting Star' Northern Pin Oak

Leaves emerge brick red in spring. In fall they return to that brick red in fall. Grey bark and silver branches. 30-40 feet tall, 20+ feet wide. Tried one here in my demo garden. Didn't do well. I think it wants more water.

'Majestic Skies' Northern Pin Oak

Unlike many trees with 'sky' as part of the name, this is NOT one of the skinny ones. It does get big, however. 60 feet tall by 45 wide. Burgundy fall colour.

More info about oaks:

Acorns and Wildlife Habitat is a fascinating slide show (5-7 minute read) about the relationship and importance of oaks in forest ecologies in the Eastern Hardwood forests.

This, by all accounts is the more common colour: A rich slightly red brown.

You can expect to get a tree this size while you still own the house. Probably about 20 years old.

Acorn. Depending on the type of oak tree, acorns can be little -- the sizes of your little finger -- to big. Only three fitting on your palm. Most are 1/2" to 1" Caps can cover almost completely or barely hang on to the end of the nut.

Mature Tree

Mature tree. Like the oaks, they get big.

Fall Colour

Fall colour isn't exceptional.

Walnuts

There are two members of this family that grow here.

Black Walnut

We are right at the edge of the zone for this one. Get your seed from a tree that grows in a cold area. This is a slow growing tree with really big pinnate leaves. The leaves are toxic to a lot of plants, and to horses. Takes 20 years to get nuts.

The nuts come in a greenish yellow rind about the size of a pool ball. Getting the nut out of the rind is easy: Grab with the palms of your hands and twist. Your hands will be black and blue for a week or so after from a pigment in the rind. Maybe wear gloves. The nuts are VERY hard, but are easier to open after a few weeks drying. They are smaller than the classic English walnut but have a stronger flavour.

Butternut

Butternuts have better cold tolerance. Superficially the trees are very similar looking. Butternuts are larger, and shaped more like footballs.

Walnut husk, nut, and meat

The green nut husk. Later they turn yellow, then black, much like a bananna.

Young Tree

Young sapling tree. Not sure if this is a walnut or butternut.

Medium Tree

As they get larger, they sprawl more.

Green Nut On Tree
Butternut and Leaves
Leaves and nuts


Leaf -- Oak

Species
Cultivar
Container
Format
Available
(# plants)
Height
(feet)
Price
($/Plant)
Oak, Admiration #10 Std pot (30 qt) 8 5-6 ft. $90.00
Oak, Admiration #8 Std pot (24 qt) 10 7-8 ft. $90.00
Oak, Bur #10 Growbag (42 qt) 10 3-4 ft. $120.00
Oak, Bur #10 Growbag (42 qt) 7 5.5-7 ft. $120.00
Oak, Bur Bare Root Seedling 200 12-12 in. $5.25
Last Update: 2020-Apr-07

Food -- Walnut

Species
Cultivar
Container
Format
Available
(# plants)
Height
(feet)
Price
($/Plant)
Butternut, Common #8 Std pot (24 qt) 5 6-7 ft. $90.00
Last Update: 2020-Jan-20


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.