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Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Posted by dave_in_nova VA zone 7a (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 17:11

I got these seedlings going from a pen pal in Denmark (from acorns from a tree in Denmark) who claims they're quite hardy. They were sure eager to sprout! Half were sprouting in the package which was sent in the middle of winter.

There's a chance the Holly-leaf oak might survive our winters, but I'm not so sure about our summer heat and humidity! I'll try one in a dry location.

Does anyone know of any growing in the Mid-Atlantic region?

This post was edited by dave_in_nova on Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 17:14


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Well the summer heat and humidity is not going to be a problem unless you're in New Orleans. Unlike the Pacific, the Mediterranean gets quite warm in summer (though not as warm as something like the Chesapeake Bay or Indian Ocean) and therefore dewpoints can get and stay higher than they do in our west coast. I've been in Barcelona in late August/early Sept. and someone used to AC would have needed it to stay comfortable at night although of course it was nothing like the US SE. Likewise the northern parts of the Med. can have fairly heavy summer rainstorms, though they are rare, they are non-existent in coastal CA. When I was staying in Vence, FR, in July once, there was a heavy rainstorm that probably bought 1/4 to 1/2" of rain, but my hosts remarked that it was unusual at that time year.

As for the winters, the one I tried years ago came from Oikos and didn't seem very hardy at all. I wish I had records whether it was the winter of 1994 or 1996 but I don't remember exactly...but I'm almost sure it was the milder winter of 1996. (I do remember that 1994 was so bad that a Q. myrsinifolia was killed to the ground in western Ffx. Co. where temps went well below 0F...probably -10F and stayed there for a while.) Anyhow IIRC he said they should have been a hardy collection from somewhere in the interior of southern France but I could be wrong about that. Q. suber from Woodlanders did better and showed less dieback. However I certainly believe a strain of Q. ilex could exist that would be solidly zn 7 hardy, I just don't have any proof of such a thing existing yet. Most of Denmark is zn 8 believe it or not, and many parts of it probably have all time record lows above or equal to 0F. (unlike some parts of US zn 8 that have record lows below 0F)

Most interestingly, the hybrid I. X turneri (Q. ilex x Q. robur) is basically evergreen in the mild maritime climates of western Europe and the PNW. However, mine tried to stay evergreen for its first few years but would get burned during cold spells in winter. However, now that it's about 7' tall it completely has dropped such pretentions and now starts dropping its leaves in late autumn no matter how mild it is.- before any freezes. Such adaptations are not unheard of - it reminds me of the Osmanthus that has spiny leaves when young to reduce herbivory then switches to almost smooth leaves in adulthood. Phenotypic change in response to environment.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

"that would be solidly zn 7 hardy"

And I hope you agree w/me that this winter proved we need plants that are solidly zn 7 hardy!
IIRC the Q. ilex I tried was completely killed by 0F; if not completely I saw no reason to wait for it to come back. OTOH the Q. suber still had signs of life on top, and indeed the plant lasted until the mid 2000s when the next owners of my parents house cut it down because it was subject to winter injury and wasn't the prettiest thing anyhow. As I've said before, IMHO most of the sclerophyllous/southern european oaks are ugly when young.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

I took these to show another poster what wild Blackthorn looks like. But I have realised that in the background are several Quercus ilex. It has naturalised in some places here. These are on the South Coast overlooking the Channel and have been shaped by the prevailing wind. There would be very little frost where they are.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

thanks all,

Floral: I have heard that Q. ilex has become invasive in milder parts of the UK, but is very salt-tolerant so would be a great tree for coastal areas there!

David: Thanks for your thoughts. I'm sure there are 'live' oaks which are better adapted to our region (like the native and Asian species) and really, who has room for more than one or two??

And like you say, this winter was a real test.

My Q. virginianas got some fried leaves this winter. Ice and snow are really hard on them. Ubame oak had some bronzed leaves from the cold. Even my myrsinifolia had some damaged leaves. That never happened before.

I will probably set some out some Q. ilex just for testing. But will reserve more prominant spots in the yard for known evergreen hardies such as magnolias, hollies, and perhaps Lithocarpus henryi.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Quercus ilex do, as far as I understand, prefer the wet summers of the UK before the dry summers of the mediterranean. The damp and hot summers of eastern USA might be too much though.

Another very hardy evergreen is the wheel tree, trochodendron aralioides. Quite unique little tree.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

"refer the wet summers of the UK before the dry summers of the mediterranean."

In the grand scheme of things the summers in most of the UK really aren't that wet. If we compare:
  July Precip.     Jan. Precip

NYC, USA  166mm     92mm

London, UK  41mm     51mm

Monpellier  16mm     56mm

You can see that London's figures - and pattern of distribution - are closer to Montpellier's than to NYC's.

But I can certainly imagine a Q. ilex would think it had died and gone to heaven in the British Isles - usually. Generally speaking, most plants grow faster in milder climates. One reason you don't "need" as much rain is that your temps. are low enough that evapotransporation remains low and it remains comparatively lush. In fact it kinda blew my mind that when I spent a summer in Scotland, it was atypically dry for them but with the exception of the sunniest lawn areas that browned out, just a little, it stayed very lush looking, even after several weeks of no rain. (this was in eastern Scotland, of course) It's simply that when you're stuck at 65F every day, and the sun is up in the sky for a long time but not very strong, plants don't dry out quickly at all.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

oops, I can't really edit that msg 'cause it had escaped characters in it to try to make a chart

Should be "Montpellier", and "prefer".
It's interesting that Montpellier's January rainfall is very slightly higher than London's. Granted London is one of the drier UK cities but not the driest.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

I did not realize just how rainy eastern US really is. We have 68mm precipitation in July where I live, I think that is much but compared to New York city that is quite dry.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Much if it comes from sudden heavy downpours. It's not the long steady drizzle that the numbers make it seem.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Huggorm,
In the eastern US in summer especially, averages can be very deceiving. In the southeast, the average may be 76-102 mm for July and/or August, but all or nearly of that may be in the last or first 1-3 days of a month. Some years you may have 20% of that amount for a month or even less, while other years it may be 3X that amount. The further north you go in summer, and along the gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida summer rainfall is more reliable.

Arktrees


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Yes it is true that in our climate, the standard deviation of rainfall is higher than in Europe. Of course this is not just a matter of maritime versus continental; some maritime climates like California seem to be more prone to droughts; and although SE Asia is considered to be a similar climate to the SE US, drought is at least an order of magnitude less likely there because the Asian monsoon is so reliable.

Interestingly there is even surprisingly high standard deviation over short distances at least on parts of the east coast where there's just enough topographic and landform factors to influence the paths and formations of storms. Unfortunately I've forgotten how to find that NOAA data. Newark, DE, for example has more reliable summer rainfall than I do, according to the calculated SD & skew, and indeed that is what I have observed in living here since 2006.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

I have observed over many years living here in northern Virginia, that mid-summer droughts are quite common.

It's the hazy skies and the humidity that seems to keep things alive vs the West where humidity is very low.

Also, we can get a residual tropical storm late in the summer where we just get dumped on -- up to 10 inches at a time! But most of it runs off and that really skews our 'average' rainfall.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Funny coincidence.
I'm a big fan of this website, and the question of the Fahrenheit scale recently came up.
"In my 1989 column I explained that Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, the father of the Fahrenheit scale, based his system of temperature measurement on an earlier scale devised by Danish astronomer Ole Roemer. Roemer, I said, had set zero arbitrarily -- his main consideration was that it was colder than the temperature ever got in Denmark, because he didn't like using negative numbers in his weather logbook."

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3146/did-cecil-err-in-explaining-the-significance-of-zero-fahrenheit


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Yes, Denmark, from a lowest temperature perspective is likely much milder than here, but our summer heat will often help to harden off plants making them better able to endure the winter than in Denmark.

For example, I do not think they can grow Sabal minor or Crape Myrtle. Here they do OK.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

That's right, sabal minor will fail in Denmark. Crape myrtle can be grown in warmer parts but will freeze back a little most winters. It will do best planted close to a south facing wall though. And it will never bloom, so it's not that exciting.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

I think summer rainfall along much of the MD/VA I-95 corridor is somewhat influenced by a mild rain shadow from the Blue Ridge as well...moreso some years than others depending on underlying patterns. So many times my thirsty plants have seen a hopeful looking squall line fall apart fifty miles west of here


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

So here is a random thought...

I don't think the "Ring-cupped" oaks like Q. myrsinifolia are able to cross pollinate w/Q. virginiana or fusiformis.

However, if someone could select a Q. fusiformis or even a hybrid virginiana like poaky has that is more reliably hardy to say a zone 6, with a more evergreen leaning Compton's Oak (itself already a hybrid, I realize), then maybe we'd have something. Compton's Oak is thought to be more of a zone 5 plant, and some apparently exhibit at least some tendency towards leaf retention. You could end up with something...


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Make it so!


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

So, from what I see, as far as hardiest to least hardy, it goes something like this for oaks:

Lithocarpus henryi-->Quercus fusiformis-->Q. myrsinifolia-->Q. acuta-->Q. ilex-->Q. virginiana

Does that appear more or less accurate?

That doesn't take into consideration Q. ilex's tolerance to heat/humidity.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Hairmetal, I'd put a Q. virginiana before Q. acuta, especially one of northern provenance. No experience with Q. ilex yet.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

yes the hardier Q. virginiana in Williamsburg (i.e., all of the ones planted there) were barely or lightly affected by 0F in 1994 (as was the Q. myrsinifolia that was in the parking lot of the Williamsburg Inn), while the Quercus acuta had very visible damage. The top didn't die but it was defoliated and had some branch die back.

Hopefully someone will post what the Q. acutas at the National Arboretum look like. That would be interesting. It didn't get to 0F as Wmbg did in 1994, but the cold was sustained over a longer period. If there was a major lesson learnt this year it concerned duration versus intensity. I'm convinced if we'd only had the first round with 3F, I'd have much, much less damage to my plants.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 14:51


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

david you are so right.

I don't think we set any records with our coldest temp, but the DURATION, oh my goodness! Not only numerous nights in low single digits, but numerous spans of time under 32 degrees for HIGHS!

Plus winds. I have never seen the lorapetalums and 'hardy citrus' so damaged as I have this year. Tracy palms are crispy too. Too early to tell if any of those are even alive above ground.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

No all-time records that I can think of were broken this winter in the East, although a few March monthly records were early this month.

I also think that cold blast earlier this month may have done more damage than the previous ones, we had just enough mild days that some more tender plants that, at that point, were still alive, started dehardening and waking up a bit, only to be blasted with 0 degrees yet again.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

So, Dave, did you plant the Holly Oak? I have been considering planting them along a drive in Madison County, VA, just west of the town of Orange. Wondering how they might hold up to our winters here.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

By now some may know that my Q. Virginiana "late drop" died to the ground this past winter. It has come back from the bottom of the trunk and has shot up to the same height as before last winter  photo DSC00408_zpsfadae8a3.jpg I know it had been fine the previous winter. This past winter from hell did it in. I kept checking it, the last couple weeks did it in, it was fine before then. The leaves were gone, well it looked fine before those last 2 weeks, but I kept seeing good buds well into May, wishful thinking I guess. But if you are in zone 6b or 7, you should be fine. I want to add that the Turner's oak (Q. Robur X Q. Ilex) is hard to get (illegal to send to the US) in the US. I had gotten one thanks to a nice Brit, who found a way to send me one. They are usually grafted, I was told that they rarely self seed. Mine croaked, so is also zone 7 hardy. The Compton's are a surely hardy relative of the Q. Virginiana for me. I am letting my Q. Virginiana grow again, but I am not going to expect much. I have 4 Compton's coming to me soon. As mentioned they vary in leaf persistence. The one closest to our house is shaped nice with wide spreading limbs, (it's small yet, though) but has shed it's foliage sooner than a couple over the hill. Look on the Colonial Williamsburg, Wv website, there is a picture of a mature Compton's oak. Well, even Yahoo images. The tree shown, is impressive, but the leaves don't stay on that Compton's, and the climate is at the least zone 7. I had tried a pure Q. Ilex and zone 6 is too cold, and I had tried it during a normal winter here. I hope I helped.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

FWIW, some thoughts on evergreen oaks---probably all species without a proven track record in your area will benefit from at least initial "kid glove" treatment---planting in a cold wind protected sunny spot, good to excellent drainage (especially for the Mediterranean types), and likely some winter protection (mulching around the base and/or at least a temporary shelter for the whole plant on at least the coldest nights---even the potentially hardiest species likely are not fully hardy until well established in marginal areas. FWIW, along with the llex I might suggest trying chrysolepis and hypoleucoides (apparently surviving at the Denver botanic gardens) and turbinella. both hypoleucoides and turbinella are from climates with at least some summer rain and thus may be better adapted to the south east's climates. hope this is of some interest.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

The problem is a marginally hardy evergreen oak is not a very satisfactory garden plant. In the winters it doesn't retain leaves, it looks very bad. Most people could live with that being 1 in 10 to even 1 in 5 winters, but not 1 in 3 or 1 in 2. The people who bought my parent's former house cut down the Quercus suber I planted as a teen after a cold winter. I suspect the top would have resprouted, but I'm sure it looked awful. They aren't even very pretty when they are in leaf...until they got 20+ years old IMHO. Ugly, wiry branch structure.

Oddly though, the seedling Turner's oak I got from Woodlanders years ago now no longer even tries to retain its leaves. The harsher North American winters vs. NW Europe seems to have triggered some epigenetic change. It just drops them in November even before it freezes but...alas...without even a little color change! Interestingly, it was agonizingly slow in the earlier years when it tried to stay evergreen, now it is merely very slow. But at any rate without the evergreen-ness, you're left with a boring looking, slow growing, oak that doesn't color in fall. Yawn.

Given the tragic appearance of the Hill's nursery west branch on Rt. 7 in Great Falls (was just back in the 703 this summer), I can only imagine the Arlington location is teetering on complete oblivion too. They could have at least sold one location to preserve the other. Which means all the plants there will be destroyed for redevelopment soon if they haven't already been. But, you could (have seen)/see there some northern live oaks vs. a real Q. X turneri graft from Belgium that Mr. Hill imported in the 1950s. The Q. virginianas were much bigger...the Q. X turneri almost looked like a dwarf. (granted it was 10 years ago I was visiting...but it was still 45 years old!) My point in all this is if a 1/2 Q. ilex grows so slowly and poorly in our climate, I don't think there's much hope for Q. ilex itself. It is used to the (usually) cloudy, rainy, mild winters of western Europe. Even hardier Q. virginiana are probably overall better adapted to the mid-Atlantic climate; and certainly the hardier Asian evergreen oaks as well.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

"but our summer heat will often help to harden off plants making them better able to endure the winter than in Denmark."

Except this mostly doesn't apply to plants from western Europe because summers aren't very hot there anyhow. Only to plants from Asia and North America.

PS - as to the Hill's Arlington location...not very promising! Written in 2008!:

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.yelp.com/biz/hills-nursery-and-camellia-gardens-arlington

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 7:23


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Spain is in western Europe and they have quite hot summers there. Just watch the old movie "The good, the bad and the ugly" with Clint Easywood to find out.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

I knew someone would say that.
But the native range of Q. ilex includes some areas like southern France/NE Spain that are not really hot by US standards - I can't find any stations but this is especially true because it is often found at elevations around 500-1000 meters, where the nights in particular are cooler than right along the Mediterranean. Barcelona as I've pointed out, is only about as hot as Boston in the summer...even Marseille, considered a very hot city by French standards, is cooler than Philadelphia in summer.

In any case it has grow in southern England since the 16th century, has survived the cold winters since then and is in fact considered "invasive" there...so clearly doesn't need hot summers. (coldest in the past 200 years in London, to the best of my ability to research their arcane way of keeping records, was only 9F/-13C)

I might accept this argument more for Pinus pinea, whose true native range according to Herr Resin _is_ restricted to the hotter southern Iberian; and not surprisingly it has demonstrated a likely ability to harden better in heat. He said it's known to have been injured in the worst winters in SE England, but JC Raulston recorded the plant at the NCSU Arboretum as having no injury from -9F/-22C! Sadly that one got the chop for the new visitor's center. My own P. pinea was clearly hardier than Q. ilex or Q. suber in our climate.


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

Q. Ilex at Cardiff castle Wales back in 2001. Nice tree, huh?  photo DSC00427_zpsf6ed751b.jpg


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RE: Has anyone on East Coast ever tried Quercus ilex?

There are a few nice Q. ilex scattered in the deep south..Savannah, GA..even one in Atlanta. I have one in Gainesville, FL..but its still quite small and not overly happy.


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