Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

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

Is western soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii) dioecious?
February 15, 2008 - Hi! I found different information on the flowering habits of the western soapberry, Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii. Is it dioecious or polygamo-dioecious or none of them? I have some little seed...
view the full question and answer

When is the appropriate time to prune pecan trees in Hewitt?
September 07, 2008 - Labor Day Weekend my husband decided to trim all the low branches on a big pecan tree in our back yard which I thought should had been done at the first of the year, our temprature is in the mid 90's...
view the full question and answer

Control of borers attacking Prunus serotina
August 30, 2006 - Where can I find information to control borers that seem to attack only Prunus serotina v. exemia?
view the full question and answer

Apple trees for Dothan, AL
April 01, 2009 - I would like to plant early, mid and late season apple trees in my area Dothan Al.What types can I plant that will help pollinate each other? I have plenty of room and planting some crabapples trees w...
view the full question and answer

Bugs eating new growth on Mountain Laurel shrubs from Dripping Springs TX
April 02, 2013 - What is eating the new growth on my mountain laurel shrubs? One plant has red bugs and the other has black (could they be love bugs?). Is there something I can do to preserve the new growth?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.