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

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Friday - January 27, 2006

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Possible identification of Post Oak in New Braunfels, TX
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live 6 miles north of New Braunfels in the Hill Country and own 5 acres of land. The property consists of many escarpment live oaks, texas persimon, and ashe juniper. I believe I also have some Texas Red Oak, Texas Sycamore and other oak trees that I am having difficulty identifying. These oaks are the reason why I am writing this since I am wondering if you can help in identifying them. They are deciduous, are largely upright, are growing out of limestone, range from 20 to 50 feet in height and have fairly short, stubby branches which seem to alternate branching to the left and then to the right from the main trunk as one looks up the tree. The bark has "ridges" and is grey. I am relatively new to the area and have not seen the acorns or leaves. Perhaps my best bet is to wait until summer? Hope you can help!

ANSWER:

You probably will have to wait till spring to be absolutely sure what they are, but this sounds like a fairly good description of Post Oak (Quercus stellata). Here are more images from Vanderbilt University of the post oak.

Black-jack Oak (Q. marilandica), is also a possibility. You can see more images of the black-jack oak from Vanderbilt and from Duke University.

Unless you saw acorns and/or oak-type leaves on the trees, its also possible that you've misidentified the tree as an oak. It could be a Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia), which also generally fits your description. Here are more images from Vanderbilt of the cedar elm.
 

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