Oaks are some of the most beloved forest trees in North America. They are associated with longevity, sturdiness, and family. They are a shelter and a source of food for a lot of animals, especially birds, and provide shade and beauty to our garden, cities or roads.
The blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica)/is one of the oak subspecies native to North America and present on the East Coast and the center of the US. It thrives in Illinois, as it finds the best conditions here.
It's Not an Imposing Tree
The blackjack oak is not an imposing tree. It has a short trunk and it can grow up to 10 to 30 feet. If cultivated, it has a chance of exceeding this height, but it’s typically small.
Its leaves are glossy green and have a unique bell-shape, with three spiky lobes starting from the leaf’s tapered base. One way of spotting a blackjack oak during winter is to look for its brown leaves, as they tend to remain attached to the tree well after other trees have shed completely.
Tips for Planting and Caring for a Blackjack Oak
Blackjack oak trees have a coarse, woody root system that shouldn’t be upset by construction work or any digging nearby the tree. Consider planting it in an area of your property where it’s unlikely that you will extend your house or peripheral buildings.
Its growth rate is quite slow. This oak species isn’t the most long-lived as it can only reach about 200 years of age.
A Versatile Tree
One of the main advantages of the blackjack oak tree is that it is extremely adaptable to “problem sites.” Therefore, it doesn’t need much attending. It’s tough, has a lot of character and its wood is very dense, producing a very hot flame.
This tough oak is relatively easy to grow, although you might not find them easily in nurseries. You can also grow this tree from seed by planting an acorn and giving it plenty of full sun, a dry soil like sand, gravel or clay, and not too much water.
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