Burr Oak tree acorns ...!

vieja_gw(z7NM)September 30, 2008

I just found the very odd looking seeds from a tree in a local park that I found out is a Burr Oak ... the seeds are still green but huge & so bizzare-looking! I want to wait until the acorns inside are dry & drop & try to grow it. I read the Burr Oak is the state tree of Iowa. Has anyone had any experience with this tree? If so, what would you say for or against it as a shade tree? I live at 5200 ft. elevation, zone 7 & caliche soil.

The huge seeds were fascinating & I just had to take photos of them!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if they are not acorns... research oak gall ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 8:50AM
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This tree is one of the few that succeeds in the great plains where others don't. It handles alkaline soils and dry conditions very well. Its a very tough tree. If one is growing in your city park it should do well at your house. Put the seeds in pots, push them into the soil about 1/2 way, and then cover with mulch. Water them every other day or so and some of them always seem to sprout. They tend to grow roots before the top grows. Top tends to grow several inches in about a week or two and then stops.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 9:36AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

They produce long tap root so you would need to do something to prune it before it circles around and around and around as I've learned the hard way... You could grow them in milk carton with the bottom cut out and place them on the 1/4" mesh to air prune the tap root but it still wouldn't help develop horizontal root growth as it will mainly develop vertical root growth. Better than having very long tap root, I suppose. Rootmaker propagation is very good at developing root system vertically and horizontally. Much better than traditional smooth sided pots...

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 12:39PM
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I think they will be okay in 3gal plastic pots for one year. Mine are in 3 gallon pots and I checked them about a week ago, there is some circling but nothing I can't manage to straighten out. I'm sure if I left them in the pots for two years though it would be a mess.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 1:19PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I suppose I could do side by side experiments as I finally found bur oak tree with huge acorns. The rootmaker propagation tray has 18 cells that's 3.5 inches across at up and 4 inches deep that tapers down to 2 inches wide at the bottom. Holes everywhere. Should be fun to see how a large acorn would do in that size. It's the largest size for rootmaker propagation.

One thing about rootmaker stuff is that trees seem to just grow faster, I suppose due to increased number of roots to absorb more water and nutrients so you end up with a mass of fibrous root system with pruned 4" tap root. If done right, you could have 3-4 feet of growth in one year from seeds. I much prefer the root system from rootmaker over the root system grown in the coventional pots.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 2:55PM
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Sorry. Folks just make too big a deal over taproots.
I have several nice bur oaks that I brought with me to KY from MO back in '94. They were seedlings, grown in a little plant bed, from acorns I collected on the farm we were living on. Rabbits ate them off nearly at ground level that winter, and I dug them up, snipped their taproots to fit the containers I had on hand - and 'imprisoned' them in 32-oz plastic drink cups for a couple of years until I was able to put them in a permanent location. Any circling roots were pruned off at planting, and they are now healthy 15-20 ft tall trees, which have been producing acorns for the past 4-5 years.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 4:31PM
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Sounds good! I realy would prefer a lawn tree that has a deep tap root so it would let grass grow right up to it & not heave the surrounding area with lateral/horizontal roots. Our alkaline/caliche soil & low rainfall area sounds good for it also so think I will watch those Park trees & gather some nuts/acorns when they drop! I wonder why our City has not tried to plant more of these before?! The ash they have planted all over are succumbing to the borers so we need some other varieties to take their place soon!

Thanks so much for the input!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 5:20PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I think you're really missing a point but whatever floats your boat...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 10:17AM
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A friend sent me 20+ bur oak acorns. Most of you start acorns in containers of one sort or another, then plant them out the following year. I did that last year but wonder if it is necessary.

Is there any reason why I can't plant acorns out from the beginning (acorns from Bur oaks and other oaks), and protect them by stapling screen or hardware cloth to the ground above? How deep would you plant them? What did I forget to ask?

Many thanks,

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 3:07PM
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I planted mine in the ground with just enough soil to cover them and every single one sprouted.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 7:18PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

You can plant acorns directly in the ground, Pam, but when they sprout next spring, the squirrels somehow know there's still an intact acorn under the soil, and they pull them up. At least that's what happened a long time ago when I lived in town and planted some swamp chestnut oak acorns. The squirrels only left me two seedlings, which of course happened to be in the spots I least wanted the trees!
Where I am now, there are so many water oak, post oak, and red oak acorns on the ground, you wouldn't think the squirrels would fool with seedlings next spring, unless between the squirrels, deer, blue jays, and other critters, they eat them all.
Any way, that's why I plant mine in containers and put the containers in my fenced in garden. I think they got one of my white oak acorns, though, because there was a dug out place in the soil in one of my containers where I had planted a few white oak acorns.
P.S. Is it cold or what?!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 7:52PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

If it were me, I'd plant them in the ground and use chicken wire / hardware cloth to fashion protection from varmints. Seems to me it would be easier, more reliable, and better for the tree. I can't think of a single advantage to planting acorns in pots unless you planned on selling the small seedlings.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:43AM
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Sherry, there's an abundance of water oak acorns over here too, my ground is completely covered with them. They're so bitter though, I have noticed that squirrels will pass them up for more tasty ones (like white oak).

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 1:53PM
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Alabama and Sherry - thanks for the advice. It's like old times talking with you. I've missed you!

Alabama - I'll plant them out - these acorns are huge, bigger than tennis balls. I've never seen acorns this big. We don't have many squirrels (yet). We do have rabbits, possums, raccoons, muskrats, foxes, coyotes, and deer.

Brandon: you recommend using chicken wire or hardware cloth to "fashion protection.: Can you describe how you would do this? Lay the stuff on the ground and use metal staples to keep it from blowing away? Make a quasi-box out of chicken wire and staple it to the ground? None of the above?

Sherry - cold?? It's awful. Last week, we had temps below 20 in the morning - it's just starting to warm up a bit. 15-20 years ago, we used to get a light frost after Thanksgiving, then the first frost occurred in first week of Dec. The last few years have been so mild, we didn't have a freeze until January. On Friday, it SNOWED in Va Beach, Norfolk and parts of the Eastern Shore. We had a few flurries, no accumulation.

I ordered another 200 hardwood and flowering tree seedlings, they are due around Dec 31. Also more LLPs. I'm looking for a good source of redbud, pawpaw, yaupon holly and few other type of seedings. I must be crazy to be doing this now but I think the seedlings will settle in better if I plant them in dead of winter.

Take care and try to stay warm. Don't be strangers!


    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Brandon the reason for starting them in pots is that you can set them out after they are larger and not subject to drought, mowing and grazing either by deer or livestock. I have a burr oak in a 25gal tub that i plan to haul set out this winter. It's a nice tree about 4ft. tall.
On a different note I found a tree that was identical to a burr oak in every way except for the acorns, its is called a white swamp oak. Anyone familiar with this oak?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 1:31AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Pam, I don't know that the way I do it is necessarily the best way, but I make a cylinder out of the wire and leave it on for a few years. That way it protects the seedling from deer browsing. For squirrel protection, I would just squeeze the top together and use a strand of wire to keep the top opening closed. the wire I use is tough enough to stab down into the ground just a little so it is self supporting. I'll add a stake to make it even more stable.

James, the trees are far less subject to drought when planted in the ground and mulched (unless they're planted at a location where water isn't available). Mowing isn't a problem for me because I keep the grass and weeds cleared around the seedlings. Each seedling is mulched with a 5' diameter circle, and I use Roundup about once a year when needed. I've never had an animal issue with the cages I install. I've had dogs dig outside the cages, but they haven't hurt the trees.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:12AM
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The reason for putting the acorns in pots is so you can control conditions and increase germination chances. Where I'm at we are so dry that only maybe 1 year in 4 would be wet enough for acorns to sprout. I have planted around 50 acorns out along creek every year for last 3 years, have yet to get one to sprout. Of those I plant in pots, I'll get 30-50% germination. These are then transplanted out in the fall/winter. If you're in a wetter climate and/or can reach your direct buried acorns with a hose go for it.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:52AM
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Brandon: Thanks for filling in the blanks. Your idea about a cage makes a lot of sense. You have a solution to current critter problems and problems that are likely to occur as the trees grow.

I use Roundup and mulch too, but last summer, I had to Roundup many times to keep the weeds down - from May through July, it was nearly a full-time job. By August, the bare areas remained bare for a while and I had a break.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 4:33PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

I myself plant all my acorns in an obscure part of the garden and move them when they sprout. Every species around here that isn't bur oak has questionable viability, so I cannot plant them each individually in their eventual spot because... most of those spots would never germinate. I planted what I think was scarlet oak this year. The adult trees were large and healthy, but I got there late and I had to raid some squirrel's catches to find whole and hopefully viable seeds. Fingers crossed...

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 4:42PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Pam, if your weeds are from seeds, you may want to look into a Pre-emergent. I'm not sure it's a great value, but Roundup® Extended Control Weed & Grass Killer Plus Weed Preventer combines Roundup® and a pre-emergent. There are also lots of different pre-emergents and generic products that could be used.

Fledgeling, try float testing your acorns before planting them. That should lead to a very high germination rate.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 7:24PM
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scotjute - Thanks for the advice. Most years, we have 45-50 inches of annual rainfall and I have a well to use as a backup. I'll go for it.

I planted lots of acorns in pots last winter, watered them through spring and summer. By fall, they were smaller than seedlings I get through mail order and planting out took more time. If this doesn't work out, I'll go back to the pots.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 7:46PM
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sbeuerlein(zone 6)

I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet, so forgive me if they have. But don't let those acorns dry out all that much before you plant them. White oak group acorns, which included bur oaks, don't fare well if allowed to fully dry out.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:05PM
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brandon - thanks for the information re: pre-emergents. I planned to use a pre-emergent last spring when I planted so many seedlings. Last year, the weather as mild and wet so the weeds emerged early. When I finished planting in April, it was too late to apply a pre-emergent. I do plan to put a pre-emergent down in early March.

Do you have recommendations about a specific type that is more effective. I asked the forester about Preen (very cheap at Costco). He checked ingredients, said it should be fine -- except in areas where I planted LLP seedlings.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 10:44PM
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