En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Double trunks on bur oaks in Houston

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

Monday - March 15, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Double trunks on bur oaks in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am involved in a garden club propagation project. One of the trees we have had success propagating is the Bur Oak. Two of these baby Bur Oaks have multi trunks..one has two and the other has three. They both appear healthy and are beautiful specimens. Will these trees be weakened by having more than one trunk? If so, do we prune them now to just having one trunk?

ANSWER:

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) is an excellent choice for the Houston area. According to this article from the USDA Forest Service, Bur Oak should be grown from a single leader. From savvygardener.com, we found this article on Pruning Trees, from which we extracted this passage:

"To prune a young tree to a single leader (the stem that will become the trunk), locate the straightest and best leader to retain. In shaping the tree crown, remove lateral branches that are growing upright. They will compete with the leader and form a weak, multi-leader tree. Most trees can be grown with a single leader when they are young, but the growth habit of some species will change to a multiple leader spreading form at maturity. There should be no branches leaving the trunk at an acute angle or narrow forks either between branches or between a branch and the trunk. Branches that are less than two-thirds the diameter of the trunk are less likely to split off than larger branches."

Conditions Comments: The species name macrocarpa refers to the golf ball sized acorns of this tree. The leaves of bur oak also are large, so they are easy to rake. Bur oak is drought resistant, long-lived and reasonably fast-growing for an oak. Tolerates limey soils better than other oaks. Resistant to oak wilt and a number of other problems. Sensitive to root zone disturbance caused by construction.

We would suggest that you do this pruning right away, while the weather is still cool.


Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Growing non-native grapefruit from seeds from Austin
April 30, 2013 - Can you grow ruby red grapefruit trees from seeds?
view the full question and answer

Mimosa shape
November 27, 2007 - I planted a summer chocolate mimosa, and although it has bloomed lovely foliage, it has two main branches growing in a vee shape. Is this normal? Do I need to do anything to spur the growth in a more ...
view the full question and answer

Need help controling suckers from an ornamental plum in San Pedro, CA.
August 10, 2010 - I have an ornamental plum tree in my garden which produces a lot of suckers in my vegetable beds. I do not want to use harmful chemicals and cutting them back is a hopeless venture and leaves small...
view the full question and answer

Trees to hide telephone poles and wires
September 28, 2009 - I am looking for trees to plant between my house and the street to hide telephone poles and wires. My top priority is to add strong, gold color in the fall. Spring flowers would be a plus. Because ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow from Hazlet NJ
July 03, 2013 - Leaves turning yellow on weeping willow planted in May. What causes this and how can I fix it? Mother's Day gift after SANDY uprooted huge tree.
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