En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - December 13, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Red oak (Quercus shumardii or Q. buckleyi) for small yard.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, I want to plant a red oak but my yard is not large. I'm looking for a red oak that is medium size in width. The height is not so much of a concern. From what I've read, the Shumard is much taller than the Buckley's oak but not neccessarily larger in width. I have a wild Red oak that has sprung up in my front yard and I planned to transplant it to the spot in question if this particular tree is a good choice. I think it is a Shumard. Which tree is larger in width and which would you recommend for South Austin.

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that Quercus buckleyi (Buckley oak) and Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak) are very difficult to tell apart. To add to that confusion the two species can hybridize according to Shinners & Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas, p. 714.

"S. buckleyi and the the similar Q. shumardii (occurring mainly from the w edge of the Blackland Prairie e to e TX) hybridize along a narrow zone of overlap from the Cooke and Grayson co. area near the Red River s to the vicinity of San Antonio (Bexar Co.). To the w of this hybrid zone "pure" individuals of Q. buckleyii can be found while to the e "pure" Q. shumardii occurs."

So, the tree you have in your front yard may be Q. shumardii, but it also might be Q. buckleyi—or a hybrid of the two. You are correct that Q. shumardii (maximum ~100 feet) tends to be taller at maturity than Q. buckleyi (maximum ~50 feet), but we don't have any figures for hybrid maximum heights. Our information for the width, or spread, of the trees is that Buckley oak is up to 60 feet and that is also the maximum spread for Shumard oak. Since the width of the tree generally increases with the height of the tree, the maximum spread of the tree shouldn't occur until it is well above your roof line. So, unless you are worried about the canopy of your tree spreading over your roof or encroaching on your neighbor's yard, it shouldn't be a real problem for your small yard.

There is one other red oak, Quercus texana (Texas red oak), that is native to Texas. It occurs in extreme East Texas in different type of soil and climate and wouldn't be well-adapted for Austin.

You can read descriptions, see illustrations and distributions of these 3 Texas red oaks—Quercus buckleyi, Quercus shumardii, and Quercus texana—in eFloras.com, the online version of the Flora of North America.



 

More Trees Questions

Need suggestions for plants for a privacy screen in Long Beach, NY.
August 10, 2011 - I have recently added 1500sq.ft. to my backyard. My backyard faces a busy road. I would like to place native trees and bushes along the fence for added privacy, shade and to protect my house from the...
view the full question and answer

Drought affecting native trees from The Woodlands
August 18, 2011 - I've been trying to grow native trees in my yard for the past 3 years and I'm starting to question whether the amount of time required to spend watering them during the long hot season in Texas is r...
view the full question and answer

Incorrectly planted anacua from San Antonio
November 22, 2013 - I purchased a 12' anacua tree from a local nursery about 18 months ago. It was not planted correctly (root bound, rolled into a hole about 3" larger than the pot) but is still alive with the number...
view the full question and answer

Problem with magnolias and yaupon in Prosper TX
May 13, 2012 - Problem with Little Gem magnolia - 3 little gems planted next to a fence, in Prosper, TX. Planted 3 years ago, 2009, one of the trees is now withering. The other 2 are doing fine, the one has leaves...
view the full question and answer

Trees for shade in Austin
May 20, 2012 - I live in Austin and I am looking for a good tree to plant under a large live oak I have in my backyard. Something slow-growing of course and, the garden only gets late day sun for about an hour. Filt...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center