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Saturday - May 09, 2015

From: Renton, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Trees
Title: Planting Garry Oak in Kinnikinnick in WA
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I want to plant a Garry Oak tree in my backyard in an area currently covered in kinnikinnick planted by the previous homeowner. The kinnikinnick covers a large area - about 10 feet in diameter. Eventually I want to replace it with oak savanna type wildflowers, but don't want to deal with replanting the whole area just yet. Is it possible to prune a hole into the kinnikinnick, dig up the roots only in that area, and then plant a tree? Obviously I will need to keep trimming the kinnikinnick near the base to give the trunk breathing room, but will the root systems be okay together? I know that Garry Oak is a taprooted tree so I am hoping its roots will be deep enough not to have problems.

ANSWER:

Your plan to plant Garry oak into your kinnikinnick groundcover should work just fine.

Quercus garryana (Garry oak or Oregon white oak)

An intricately branched, deciduous oak, usually 25-60 ft. high but capable of reaching 90 ft. Stout, spreading branches form a wide, round crown. Bark is white and scaly. Leathery leaves are oblong, with round lobes, and are green on top, dull beneath. Tree with dense, rounded, spreading crown of stout branches; sometimes shrubby.

The oak of greatest commercial importance in the West, this species is used for furniture, shipbuilding, construction, cabinetwork, interior finish, and fuel. It is the only native oak in Washington and British Columbia. The sweetish acorns, often common in alternate years, are relished by livestock and wildlife and were eaten by Indians. Planted for shade and ornament, it resembles the eastern White Oak (Quercus alba L.).

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick or red bearberry)

Red bearberry is a trailing, evergreen shrub with paddle-shaped leaves on flexible branches. The thick, leathery leaves, rolled under at the edges, are yellow-green in spring, dark-green in summer, and reddish-purple in the fall. Nodding clusters of small, bell-shaped, pink or white flowers occur on bright-red stems. Flowers in racemes on short branches. Bright-red berries succeed the flowers and persist into winter. This ground-trailing shrub has the papery, reddish, exfoliating bark typical of woody plants in northern climates. It is frequently seen as a ground cover in sandy areas such as the New Jersey pine barrens. It is very common on Cape Cod, where it covers vast areas in open, sandy, pine-studded communities. Its complete range is the largest of any in its genus, and it is the only Arctostaphylos species to occur outside of North America, ranging across northern Eurasia and across northern North America south to the mountains of Virginia, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, with isolated populations in the mountains of Guatemala in Central America. It is a hardy shrub for landscaping rocky or sandy sites

In Greek arctos is bear and staphyle grape, whereas in Latin uva is a bunch of grapes and ursus is bear. The berries are indeed eaten by bears, as the name redundantly indicates. Kinnikinnick, an Algonquin word for many tobacco substitutes, is most frequently applied to this species, which also had many medicinal uses, including the alleged control of several sexually transmitted diseases. An astringent tea can be made by steeping the dried leaves in boiling water (sometimes used as a laxative). Bearberry is long lived, but grows very slowly. It has no serious disease or insect problems. A similar species found in the Cascade Mountains and Sierra Nevada, Pinemat Manzanita (A. nevadensis), has a tiny sharp point at the tip of the leaf. One other species, Alpine Bearberry (A. alpina), is found on New England mountaintops.

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

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