Scrub Oak Bear Oak
=Habitat and Range.=--In poor soils; sandy plains, gravelly or rocky
Maine,--frequent in eastern and southern sections and upon Mount Desert
island; New Hampshire,--as far north as Conway, more common near the
lower Connecticut; Vermont,--in the eastern and southern sections as far
north as Bellows Falls; Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and
Connecticut,--too abundant, forming in favorable situations dense
thickets, sometimes covering several acres.
South to Ohio and the mountain regions of North Carolina and
Kentucky; west to the Alleghany mountains.
=Habit.=--Shrub or small tree, usually 3-8 feet high, but frequently
reaching a height of 15-25 feet; trunk short, sometimes in peaty swamps
10-13 inches in diameter near the ground, branches much contorted,
throwing out numerous branchlets of similar habit, forming a stiff,
flattish head; beautiful for a brief week in spring by the delicate
greens and reds of the opening leaves and reds and yellows of the
numerous catkins. Sometimes associated with Q. prinoides.
=Bark.=--Old trunks dark gray, with small, closely appressed scales;
small trunks and branches grayish-brown, not furrowed or scaly; younger
branches marked with pale yellow, raised dots; season's shoots
yellowish-green, with a tawny, scurfy pubescence.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds 1/8-1/4 inch long, ovoid or conical,
covered with imbricated, brownish, minutely ciliate scales. Leaves
simple, alternate, 3-4 inches long and 2-3 inches broad; when unfolding
reddish above and woolly on both sides, when mature yellowish-green and
somewhat glossy above, smooth except on the midrib, rusty-white, and
pubescent beneath; very variable in outline and in the number (3-7) and
shape of lobes, sometimes entire, oftenest obovate with 5 bristle-tipped
angular lobes, the two lower much smaller; base unequal, wedge-shaped,
tip obtuse or rounded; leafstalk short; stipules linear, soon falling.
=Inflorescence.=--Early in May. Appearing when the leaves are half
grown; sterile catkins 2-4 inches long; calyx pubescent, lobes oftenest
2-3, rounded; stamens 3-5; anthers red or yellow: pistillate flowers
numerous; calyx lobes ovate, pointed, reddish, pubescent; stigmas 3,
reddish, recurved, spreading.
=Fruit.=--Abundant, maturing in the autumn of the second year, clustered
along the branchlets on stout, short stems: cup top-shaped or
hemispherical: acorn about 1/2 inch long, varying greatly in shape,
mostly ovoid or spherical, brown, often striped lengthwise.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy in New England; grows well in dry,
gravelly, ledgy, or sandy soil, where few other trees thrive; useful in
such situations where a low growth is required; but as it is not
procurable in quantity from nurseries, it must be grown from the seed.
The leaves are at times stripped off by caterpillars, but otherwise it
is not seriously affected by insects or fungous diseases.
1. Flowering branch.
2. Sterile flower, side view.
3. Fertile flowers, side view.
4. Fruiting branch.
5. Variant leaves.
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