If you are interested in buying or browsing Texas Red Oak Trees in Helotes or San Antonio, Wilson Landscape has an impressive stock of all sizes and shapes of trees. We grow all of our trees from acorns and seeds and only use the best fertilizers. We have beautiful Texas Red Oak Trees to choose from. We specialize in tree growing, and we only grown native and well adapted Texas trees, so you can be sure they will flourish. Best of all, Glenn and Sherry are plant experts and would love to answer any and all questions and concerns you may have about your specific tree needs. Our knowledge is something that is hard to find. Come on in or give us a call today!
Top 20 Shade Trees for San Antonio!
Custom Plant Information by Wilson Landscape Nursery & Florist- Helotes, Texas
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# 3--Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi; Quercus shumardii)
You have come to a great tree in your search! We at Wilson's hope that you find this plant information to be helpful and interesting. Let us know if we can help you further as you search for that special tree.
Our information is based upon decades of loving trees, learning about trees, growing trees, maintaining trees, talking about trees, selling trees. planting trees, watching trees grow, enjoying the beauty of trees and being grateful to God for creating trees!
“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 2:9; 1:12)
Strengths and Weaknesses Listed
All trees have weaknesses and strengths. In order to thoroughly evaluate a tree, you should consider both. Let me begin by offering some strengths of Texas Red Oak and then I will describe some weaknesses. You will be happy to discover that this trees strengths overcome its weaknesses! In fact, from our viewpoint, Texas Red Oak is near the top of the list coming in at #3. But perhaps, it will become your number #1 choice.
Be Sure to Buy the Right Kind of Texas Red Oak
Texas Red Oak is one of the most beautiful native trees we have. We highly recommend it! Around the Hill Country, we sometimes call it “Spanish Oak”. Common names can confuse the issue since there are so many kinds of Red Oak trees growing throughout the United States. It is important to know which Red Oaks are native to Texas and especially the South-Central Texas area. For example, some folks know about another beautiful Red Oak called “Pin Oak” Quercus paulustris, also called “Spanish Oak.” This tree is beautiful there, but does not do well here! Make sure that your Red Oak tree is native and well adapted to our area. You could purchase a “Red Oak” from another part of the country, or even our own state, and it would look much like our natives. But after planting, it could become a sickly yellow color (chlorosis) before too many years and never be fully healthy again. See the discussion below on “Understanding Texas Red Oak Better” for more clarification on this.
Strengths of Texas Red Oak
Strength: Proven Performer
Texas Red Oak is a proven performer. Majestic trees can be seen all throughout the San Antonio area. These trees have proven to have few if any problems. They live hundreds of years and get more majestic with age.
Strength: Large Shade Tree
Texas Red Oak makes a very large shade tree, over 50' feet tall in the San Antonio area spreading as wide as it is high. In addition, large boughs develop which are especially majestic, especially when the major boughs are reduced in number. The tree can look good allowing lower branches (boughs) to grow or can be trimmed up high for mower clearance.
Strength: Dependable Fall Foliage
Texas Red Oak is definitely the most dependable tree for fall foliage in the San Antonio area. A Bigtooth Maple will disappoint some years followed by an awesome year. A Texas Red Oak will never let you down on fall foliage. Its foliage color begins with some yellow and then orange mixed in with a deepening red until it become almost maroon red. Hill Country areas get the best color but the immediate San Antonio area also enjoys dependable color. The fall foliage of Texas Red Oak peaks late between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this is really a good thing. By then the weather has finally cooled down and it feels like fall. Fall foliage for fall weather! It just wouldn't seem right if we had awesome fall foliage with temperatures in the 90's.
Strength: Drought Tolerant
Texas Red Oak is very drought tolerant. It can usually survive on rainfall alone, once established. It will need help at first to get established, especially in areas of shallow, rocky soil. Of the large shade trees, Texas Red Oaks are nearly as drought tolerant as Live Oaks and Cedar Elms. They can be used successfully for street, subdivision and park plantings. They are more drought tolerant than Mexican Sycamores. They do benefit from soil enhancement and proper watering.
Strength: Fast Grower
For an oak tree, Texas Red Oak grows moderately fast, perhaps three feet all the way around each year one established.
Strength: Classic Oak Tree Leaf Shape
Texas Red Oak gives you that classic oak tree leaf shape. We do not normally think of Live Oaks as having a classic oak tree leaf.
Strength: San Antonio Area Native
This is a true South-Central Texas native, absolutely at home in our area.
Weakness: Oak Wilt Scare
Along with several other trees in the Red Oak family, Texas Red Oak has been the victim of Oak Wilt disease in the immediate areas affected by it. Since Red Oaks are not nearly as common as Live Oaks, far fewer have died from the disease. The most susceptible Red Oaks to Oak Wilt have been far out in the Hill Country where trees are stressed, conditions are dry, rocky and unwatered. Red Oaks there tend to be more isolated, not forming continuous clumps as Live Oaks tend to do.
How Oak Wilt Spreads
The greatest danger of Oak Wilt spreading is through the interconnecting root systems of Live Oak Trees, not Red Oaks. If a new area of Oak wilt forms, and there happens to be a native Red Oak already in the area, it could be vulnerable just as other Live Oaks in the immediate area will be vulnerable. In urban areas of newly planted Red Oaks, isolated from Oak Wilt damage zones, Red Oaks have not been affected. Planting an isolated Texas Red Oak tree will not contribute to the Oak Wilt problem nor will planting a Live Oak. Where a zone of Oak Wilt already exists, containing the spread from that zone is important. Where new plantings of trees are away from such zones, the Oak Wilt hype has been exaggerated.
Weakness: Fall Color Not As Translucent/Iridescent
Texas Red Oak trees offer nice, dependable fall color. However, since they are Oak trees, leaves tend to be thicker and less translucent to sunlight which does not allow their fall color to be as brilliant or iridescent as Maple trees and others that are more so.
Weakness: Holds Some Old Leaves Through Winter
The changing colors of the Texas Red Oak come late, around Thanksgiving to Christmas. After the fall leaves have turned red, they sometimes remain on the tree throughout winter. By this time they have turned brown but may still remain on the tree, which is not particularly attractive.
Weakness: Lots of Acorns
Every two years the Texas Red Oak makes a healthy crop of acorns. Some complain about the cleanup required.
Weakness: Leaf Cleanup
Texas Red Oaks have a lot of leaves! Some people don't like to rake leaves. Others have discovered that simply mowing the leaves gradually throughout the fall, eliminates the need for raking!
Understanding Texas Red Oaks Better
Botanical Names For Texas Red Oak
As was mentioned above, there is some confusion about the proper naming of Texas Red Oak. For example, the common name, “Spanish Oak” has been used of various Red Oak trees throughout the country including “Pin Oak”, Quercus paulustris, and “Southern Red Oak”, Quercus falcata, neither of which do well here. Our Hill Country Red Oak, Quercus buckleyi, seems to be worthy of the common name “Spanish Oak” around here, if one wanted to use the name. Even the botanical name for what is commonly referred to as “Nuttall's oak is now Quercus texana, which one would think would be known as the legitimate “Texas Red Oak” yet few call it that. And of course, the common name, “Texas Red Oak” itself, could be legitimately used of any of the several trees in the Red Oak family that grow on Texas soil.
This brings us to a discussion of botanical names which are necessary in order to purchase the right kind of Red Oak. Fortunately, there are only two kinds of Red Oaks trees in Texas that do well here that you need to know about: Quercus buckleyi and Quercus shumardii. Both of these are correctly referred to as Texas Red Oak.
Texas Red Oak: Quercus buckleyi
First, there is Quercus buckleyi. If you were to use I-35 as a dividing line, Quercus buckleyi would be considered the native Red Oak tree that grows west of I-35 in Hill Country terrain.
Texas Red Oak: Quercus shumardii
The Red Oak trees that grow east of I-35 and throughout parts of east Texas are considered Quercus shumarddi. Both trees look very similar and are very closely related.
Differences Between Quercus buckleyi and Quercus shumardii
Difference in Growing Conditions and Growth Habit
Differences in the amount and kind of soil the two types of Red Oaks trees grow in causes them to look different. The Hill Country is rocky with shallow soils. Because of this, Red Oak trees grow more crooked, stunted, bushy, multi-trunked and with more character. Red Oak trees east of I-35 grow in deeper soils in a forest environment where they grow taller, single trunked, straighter and more stately.
When taking a drive through the Hill Country, notice the native Texas Red Oaks. These are called Quercus buckleyi. Notice the environment they are growing in. Rocks, boulders and ledges on hillsides abound as well as drainage areas, small streams and creeks. There are rich pockets of soil mixed in with the caliche and rock. Where the tree grows will dictate its size and the degree of character or statelessness of its form. If a tree sends down roots on top of a huge boulder, often it will be more contorted. The degree of shade, amount of other trees in the area, and depth of soil and availability of water all play a role in the final shape. Quercus buckleyi also tends to be muti-trunked in its native environment, though single trunked specimens are common as well. If that same Quercus buckleyi were growing in a shaded forest environment in east Texas it would look different. It would be reaching for light as a young tree and so would tend to grow tall. It would be tapping into deeper soil and more abundant rainfall. This would allow it to grow taller and more stately when it finally would get the chance to spread out its crown reaching sunlight. That “buckleyi” Red Oak would look more “shumardii” like.
Difficult to Tell Apart At the Nursery
We at Wilson's have grown thousands of Quercus buckleyi and Quercus shumarddi. We have found that the two are not always easy to distinguish, especially at first. One of the reasons is that trees in a nursery tend to be grown in more of a favorable environment. You could say, more of a “shumarddi” environment. This causes all Red Oaks, no matter where the acorns were gathered, whether from “shumardii” trees or whether from “buckleyi” trees to take on a straighter trunk and more stately growing habit. Thus, the trees may look more “shumarddi” than “buckleyi” when in fact some of them are indeed “buckleyi”.
Differences in Leaf Shape
One distinction between mature Buckleyi and Shumardii, if growing well within their respected areas, outside of the hybridization zone, is leaf shape. There are some subtle but noticeable leaf differences between the two. The buckleyi leaf is more irregular in its lobes. It has between 5 and 7 lobes, but the upper three lobes are the most distinct and deeply cut. The lobes are not typically as symmetrical as shumarddi Its lobes end with bristled points on the end. The shumardii leafs lobes are slightly more rounded and opposite each other with little irregularity. There are usually 7 to 9 lobes. Its lobes also end in bristled points. Overall, the shumardii leaf is larger as well.-
Differences in Acorn Size
Quercus buckleyi will have a smaller acorn, ½ inch to ¾ inch long being common. Shumardii acorns tend to be ¾ inch to 1 ¼ inch long.
The San Antonio/Austin Corridor of Hybridization
There is another factor that makes distinguishing between the two difficult: our unique location in the San Antonio area. The San Antonio/Austin corridor is a hybridization zone for Texas Red Oaks. Even though Red Oak trees have developed distinctiveness, so much so that they have been named two different species, as mentioned above, other researchers have felt that the two trees should never have been separated into two distinct species. The I-35 line is only a helpful guide but is not a perfect model of separation. There is a transition zone where Red Oak trees in the San Antonio and Austin areas take on characteristics of both buckleyi and shumardii. One large wholesale grower has solved the problem of identification by referring to their Texas Red Oaks as Quercus buckleyi x shumardii, perhaps because they realize that the trees they carry cannot or should not be distinguished as two separate species. They are both buckleyi and shumarddi at the same time. These types of Texas Red Oaks have been planted extensively throughout the San Antonio area. Acorns gathered from these trees blend the best attributes of both Quercus buckleyi and Quercus shumarddi
Which is Better: Buckleyi or Shumardii?
Some may claim that one is far superior to the other. But either of these is a great choice, including the hybridized local form. Perhaps if you live in a rocky hill country environment, where no soil enhancement will be done, and little watering, Quercus buckleyi would be the better choice. If you plant on a well irrigated lawn with abundant top-soil then perhaps the shumarddi is the better choice. It also depends upon the look you like. If you prefer the more curving character, such as a Live Oak form, then Buckleyi may be the better choice. If you prefer to enhance your yard with a more stately, tall and straight tree, to give you more of that east Texas look, then shumardii may be better. The great thing is, no matter which one you choose, both will adapt to their new home with a little help from you. Either of these will also take on a unique form specific to your conditions.
Texas Red Oaks For Sale At Wilson's
Each year we usually have a good supply of Texas Red Oaks. Typically these are sold as 5 gallon, 15 gallon, 30 gallon and 45 gallon. Larger trees are available as well.
A Blessing For You
We hope that this plant information helps you as you search for that perfect tree. Whichever tree you choose, may it bring you many years of beauty and peace.
May you and your tree be “like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3)
Texas Red Oak Tree
Quercus shumardii and texana
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