Oaks Retaining Leaves

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)January 15, 2010

I saw the coolest thing yesterday...local business had a large grouping of a columnar Oak. All of them retained all their leaves. I don't know if that is typical...I've seen Oaks retain "some" leaves but never all of them.

Are there any particualr Oaks you've noticed retaining a majority of their leaves?

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Pin oak (Quercus palustris) is known for that.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 12:45PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Oaks that retain their leaves through the winter are a pet peeve of mine. Who wants to rake leaves all winter long as they dribble off, and then rake leaves in the spring when the crocus and other spring bulbs are coming up? They don't decompose all that fast either. All that work for just about a week of Fall color. For the neat and tidy, it's not the way to go. Also, you should consider your neighbors. There are other choices without the hassle.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 1:03PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

We plant some variety of columnar oak all over the place here, forgot what it is at the moment. Of course, some spp have evolved for whatever reason to delay leaf drop and they can be annoying in the wrong place. Right tree, right place!


    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 1:07PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I have the right place for this one, depending on the type.

Not a fan of Pin Oak, any others?

botann, I don't plan on raking in the snow, lol. All leaves where in tact and we are in mid-Jan...I guess it depends on how persistant they are...if they all just drop one day in the next couple months that could be a problem but if they tend to drop when the buds swell, well I can mulch them in the yard in the spring.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:09PM
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Maybe try columnar English Oak (Quercus robur ÂFastigiataÂ). Mine doesn't persist but many do.

Here is a link that might be useful: Columnar English Oak

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:21PM
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It's probably Crimson Spire Oak, a hybrid between White & English oaks. They are a columnar variety that does retain its leaves. I have one and it definitely does hold it's leaves.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:31PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I'll try to post a pic...is there a variety that isn't columnar thought?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 5:21PM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)


The persistent leaf trait is termed marcescence. While pin oak is pretty commonly noticed, there are quite a few more members of Quercus that behave this way - as well as other species. The relative persistent of the old foliage will vary somewhat with where you garden, but all of these species hold leaves through the winter here at the Valley.

Another note: the overall effect of this trait will change over time, as the plant increases its canopy size. You notice the effect on some columnar oaks, where the canopy is relatively dense and limited. On young trees with a small amount of canopy surface area, the effect is magnified. As that canopy increases in area and height, changing your viewing angle, the effect will gradually diminish.

I have used marcescent trees often to aid in screening undesirable views like billboards, factories, odd adjoining residents, etc. They also function well to further frame desirable views.

**Quercus acutissima
**Quercus imbricaria
**Quercus bicolor
**Quercus alba
**Quercus dentata
**Quercus falcata var. pagodifolia (Q. pagoda)
**Quercus robur
**Carpinus betulus
**Hamamelis vernalis
**Acer saccharum

If you're a neat freak in the garden, this habit is not for you. But if you want to extend the season of screening with a deciduous plant, then you've got more than a couple choices.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 1:49AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i hated the effect in the city with my fenced yard ...

out here on acreage ... with no fences ... the wind blows them straight across my yard.. right thru to 2 adjacent neighbors yards ... right into the tree line of the farm fields.. its just not an issue ... as noted.. the right tree in the right place ...

any left are crunched by our large riding lawnmowers ...

there are some real neat robur oaks.. english .. variegated leafed with striped acorns [if you can find it] ... thumbnail sized leaves.. twisted.. curled... way cool ...


    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 10:55AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I was pretty set on the Quercus Bicolor so good that it was that added feature...and I have been trying to find the variegated English Oak you posted a month or so ago, but it looks like if I really want that one I have to go mail order.

Does your varg. eng. oak or do you know of any issues with this one reverting? I found a nice variegated Norway Maple (search inspired by your pic) but I found it can easily revert.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 12:13PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

We have an oak that keeps its leaves. Not sure which it is exactly, but it was a volunteer and it is young-five years or so. I was told that young oaks often retain their leaves. Not sure if that is accurate, but I love having the leaves until the tree leafs out again. It helps to block a neighbors addition that I hate seeing every day!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 5:06PM
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captinconifer14(Zone 6b)

Quercus x Hispanica aka The Lucombe Oak .... a cross between Q. cerris and Q. suber. It keeps its leaves over winter.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 7:00PM
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My Sawtooth Oak keeps all of its foliage all winter, and drops them in mass almost like a ginko in about a day come spring when the new buds begin to break.

Personally, I like the fact that it's interesting looking and pretty tan/khaki color all winter.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 2:56PM
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Interesting discussion.

I have four black oaks (Q. kelloggii) that I planted from acorns about six years ago. They're about 6-8' tall now and two of them have all their dead leaves hanging from their limbs here in mid-January.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 11:48PM
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Was traveling and noticed several Willow Oaks with about 1/3 of their leaves still on with colors ranging from green to yellow. A nice to have feature in winter.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Greenthumb(Zone 5a, MN)

Juvenile growth on trees will often retain foliage through the winter. One would think that as a tree gets older, its branches would mature, and that is somewhat true, but juvenile growth on a tree will always remain juvenile growth.

I have an Acer triflorum that still has leaves at the base of the branches where the branches first start to come off of the trunk of the tree. This part of the tree is still juvenile and so retains leaves whereas the branches farther away from the trunk have mature growth so they lose their leaves in the fall. No matter how old the tree gets, this juvenile growth will remain juvenile growth.

I also have a Crimson Spire oak in my yard and it keeps its leaves all winter. Each spring I'm almost sure the tree has died because it seems that the tree buds out later and later each year. It is kind of annoying that the tree retains its leaves and drops them in the spring, but the wind sounds good blowing through the tree and rustling the dried leaves.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:00PM
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Q. alba,and oglethorpensis keep their leaves here in TN even until other oaks have started to leaf out.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 2:39PM
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