International Society of Arboriculture

         "The Legend of The Texas Bluebonnet"  -  The Devils' Cigar


 

Global Forests -
Little Known or Interesting Factoids About Trees and Tree Physiology

Contact:  Cell: 830.257.8871
                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified
e mail:
jim.rediker@usa.net

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Lacey Oak Quercus laceyi  / Quercus glaucoides
      
Texas Superstar TM      Photos: Aggie Horticulture    Lacey Oak is a Real Texas Lady      
 

 Lacey Oak Is A Real Texas Lady                       

This species is undeniably one of the toughest oaks, endemic to the dry limestone of the Texas Hill Country, Kerr, Gillespie, Medina and Bandera counties, it thrives in places where no other oak does, from the top of the canyon escarpments to the bottom, thriving amongst the rocks with the poorest of soils.   It is a smaller oak than most, with a round top and shrub like appearance. Dark, blue green leaves are its distinguishing features with very small acorns. Relished by turkeys and feral hogs this acorn never gets a chance to grow into a tree. It is definitely a good landscape potential in dry rocky areas, but not with deep fertilized soils under irrigation, as it is not tolerant of a lot of water, it likes highly alkaline, well drained rockey soils. Plant this one where you can see it on a hillside. 
 
Lacey oak is a beautiful small to medium size deciduous tree with a minor identity problem, being known alternately as Quercus laceyi or Quercus glaucoides. Most folks simply call it lacey oak, but other common names it has worn over time include blue oak, canyon oak, encino robie, mountain oak, smoky oak, and rock oak. Most of these common names refer to the tough conditions in central and south Texas where this species resides or are related to its handsome blue-green foliage.                                                                                                                  

 Regardless of the name, this plant has much to offer as a landscape plant in its native Texas. Leaves expand as a soft pink color, turning a handsome blue-green as they mature lending the plant an intriguing smoky air. The foliage is seldom bothered by insects or disease. Fall color varies from brown to yellow. Growth habit will vary with local environmental conditions, with the ultimate size ranging in most cultivated landscapes from 30' to 35' in height and spread. One of the best attributes of lacey oak is it's picturesque irregularly rounded crown. With this crown placed atop a stoutish trunk baring platy gray bark it makes a handsome addition to Texas landscapes, resembling a miniature white oak, but of tougher constitution. This  lady is Texas Tough!                

 Lacey oak is highly tolerant of heat, drought, and high pH soils once established. Full sun to light afternoon shade with morning sun are the best exposures. Lacey oak will survive on well drained clay soils, but it grows best on well drained limestone soils. Although lacey oak can be grown in east Texas, it is best adapted to the hill country and cultivated settings in west Texas. Cold tolerance has not been fully documented for lacey oak, but based on regional plantings it should be suitable for use in USDA zones 7 (perhaps protected spots in 6b) through 9.   Lacey oak is a Texas SuperstarTM, but even superstars have limits. Limitations for lacey oak include an intolerance to poorly drained soils, a moderate growth rate, and a tendency to need some initial minor pruning to maintain a strong central leader. Growth and landscape appeal in high rainfall areas will be enhanced if the trees are planted on raised beds or berms.

Landscape utilization of lacey oak might include placement as a specimen plant, small to medium size lawn or shade tree, or site it to shade a patio. This species would be a natural in native Texas landscapes and naturalized plantings, where the acorns can serve as a wildlife attractant. Xeriscapes or low water use landscapes are perfect conditions for growing lacey oak. For a bit of the unusual, try growing lacey oak as a specimen in large containers to accent courtyards or entryways to large buildings. The picturesque growth habit of this species would be accentuated if it were used as a bonsai plant.

Lacey oak deserves frequent consideration when discussing smaller shade trees that will stay in scale with residential landscapes. This beautiful tree will add a touch of the Texas hill country to your urban landscape.

The Lacey oak is of the white oak family which is somewhat more resistant to oak wilt.   NOT SO!

Draft press release submitted by Michael A. Arnold, 7/25/02 

Photo credit: Texas A & M Experimental Stn. 

Now The Bad  News

Lacey oaks, believed to be resistant to oak wilt are highly susceptible to oak wilt and, like live oak trees, they grow in groves or Motts and the roots are intergrafted. Once oak wilt affects a grove or Mott of these trees, there is no stopping the disease, Fungicide treatment is useless to arrest the disease in an infected tree and it is very chancey to protect adjacent healthy trees.

Our experience with the Lacey Oak and oak wilt is very limited and the resullts have been always disasterous. In fifteen years, I have observed approximately a dozen incidents of Lacey oaks being exposed and succumbed to the devastation of oak wilt. It is totally futile to make any attempt to inject or isolate an infected tree from other near by trees.  Most arborist have very limited or no experience with lacey oaks infected with oak wilt. If they say. they can save your lacey oaks, they are just wasting your money. They grow in very rocky areas, the canyon walls are steep, and it is almost impossible to isolate by trenching. Also, they are a very drought tolerant trees and the disease moves very quickly from one tree to the next.

These photos illustrate the effects and varying degrees of progression of infected trees amongst healthy trees. The healthy ones may succumb to the ravages of oak wilt even when treated with the fungicide. We do not have a lot of experience in the treatment or the results of treatment with lacey oaks. Any trees we have treated in early stages of infection have been unsuccessful. Trees adjacent to the infected centers are at high risk even when treated. With lacey oaks, once the infection starts, it is unstoppable! 

Click on a photo to enlarge

Photo credit: Jim Rediker, Arborist, TDA Certified.

Contact: cell: 830.257.8871
                
email: jim.rediker@usa.net
                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified
SCENIC HILLS NURSERY

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