Once upon a time, there were two oaks. But seriously, let me tell you about these two terrific oaks. So very similar yet so very different. If you are accustomed to the usual defining leaf of most oaks then you know they are all lobed and the differences are subtle. However, the willow oak stands alone in its appearance. Its leaves are small and narrow, much like the leaves of a willow tree. Hence, the name willow oak. The Nuttall oak has the classic lobed leaves that are prevalent among the oak family. Maybe Willow was adopted and nobody wants to tell her. Well, maybe we should just appreciate all the differences and just carry on.
Nuttall Oak is easily identified by its acorns, though they won’t produce them until they are around six years old. The Nuttall Oak is a rapid grower, adding 24 inches or more each year. There is a good chance you will live long enough to see this one grow to its full potential of 75 to 100 ft. The acorns are elongated, setting them apart from other oaks. However, don’t let the thought of falling acorns deter you from planting one of these in your yard. You will find that the wildlife will keep them cleaned up for you. Deer, wild turkeys, and squirrels are just a few of the many critters that will be thanking you every fall. Nuttall oak can be found as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Texas. As far as native trees are concerned, you can’t go wrong choosing a Nuttall Oak for its stately beauty and towering strength.
Looking very little like her family, Willow Oak leaves are small and narrow. Just as the name suggests, it bears a striking resemblance to the willow trees. Also referred to as swamp willow and sometimes mistakenly referred to as a pin oak, willow oaks are identifiable by their acorns as well. They are small in size and round with a very dark brown color and saucer-shaped cap. Belonging to the red oak species, it is part of a very large family. The smaller of the oaks, it will grow to be around 65 to 75 feet tall at maturity. A moderate grower, the willow oak will grow about 18 inches per year. Also, they have a fibrous root system that grows relatively shallow. This provides a natural sort of protection from root rot.
Oak trees are beautiful if you have the space for them. Since most will come close to 100 feet at maturity, you don’t want to plant them too close to your home or buildings. Though most are very tolerant of the wind, is it really a chance you want to take? There are so many different types of oak trees that are native to our area, that it is hard to pick just one. These two examples are just a couple of our personal favorites here at the nursery. Identifying oak trees in the woods can be a fun learning experience for you and your children or grandchildren. These are the lessons that will last a lifetime. Long after their school days are done, they will always remember their time with you.
Read more about native trees and learn about the benefits of choosing native.