Tree Time by Dave Daubert
Northern Red Oak
It is about time to talk about another famous family of trees, the oaks. People love their oak trees for their fall color and the crop of acorns. The squirrels love the oaks also for a particular reason. All of the oaks fall into the Beech family.
The oaks are divided into two groups, the white oaks and the red oaks. The two groups are easy to tell apart. The red oak group always has a pointed leaf whereas the white oaks have a rounded end to each of the lopes of the leaf. Another characteristic is that red oaks produce a crop of acorns every other year while the white oaks have acorns every other year.
The Northern Red Oak has cuts or indentations in the leaves only halfway to the midrib. When I talk about the Pin Oak, the indentation will be more than half way to the midrib of the leaf. The wood is reddish brown leading to the name of the tree. The acorns are bitter and are not popular with wildlife although this is disputed by some authors.
We all know the value of oak wood for everything from flooring to furniture, however, red oak wood is considered inferior to white oak wood in quality. Red Oak has been severely hit by oak wilt disease – more so than the white oak group.
When I think of the rose family, large trees do not come to mind. One of the exceptions is the Black Cherry – Prunus serotina. The leaves have one distinguishing characteristic, the ends curve down and back often described as looking like a bird’s beak. The bark is a dark reddish brown with small white oval spots termed lenticels. Older trees have large curving scales on the bark which resemble burned potato chips. A small white flower covers the tree making the tree a desirable ornamental. The flower precedes a small cherry which is edible.
It is practically impossible to collect many of the fruits because of the competition from the birds. This is also how the seeds are spread. The bark and roots contain hydrocyanic acid which has been used in cough medicine and as a flavoring – for rum and brandy.
The wood is highly prized and is used as furniture and also veneer. When cherry wood is seen, it is the wood from the Black Cherry. Large Black Cherry logs command prices in the five figures. This is a tree that can be thought of as a retirement tree.
Plant these on a acre of land when a person is young and by the time the person retires, they have a tidy nest egg.