Tree Species Highlight
A mature sawtooth oak in Stephenson Park.
Quercus acutissima (Sawtooth Oak)
I set out this month to just write about a good shade tree, but what has evolved are plans for a picnic, a historic front porch and an afternoon of entertainment for the kids who are now on summer break. We are fortunate to have many great species of large canopy, shade casting trees that do well in our area. A few of our top performers come from the oak family, and the Sawtooth oak has proven viability here in Edmond.
There are several nice Sawtooth oak specimens in Stephenson Park (4th & Boulevard). Here you can see that this tree can be a great shade producer growing to around 50’ in width! My favorite attribute of the tree is the leaves for which it is named. In addition to an interesting shape, the leaves are dark green and glossy, rivaling the color and shine of the redbud. On the west side of the park, you can see a nice Sawtooth growing near the front porch of the historic Rodkey house. The Rodkey house is a beautiful home that according to the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust was build in 1900 and moved to this site in 2007. Here you’ll see that the species has a somewhat open canopy, allowing views of the interesting branching structure. Shade remains dense enough to allow for the survival of fescue beneath these mature trees. Though with any tree, I recommend a broad area of organic mulch for optimal tree health.
Also beneath these trees you may see small saplings emerging from fallen acorns. These trees do produce a healthy crop of acorns making this an outstanding tree for wildlife. The acorns are not large and would not be a nuisance, though I may avoid using it over a patio or heavily used sidewalk. As with any tree that can readily reproduce itself, if you plant it in a natural or unmaintained area, you are likely to end up with lots of these trees. At this park, the Sawtooth demonstrates it’s tolerance of alkaline soils over some of the other oak species as the Pin oaks in the park have yellowing leaves, a condition known as chlorosis.
Be sure to stop by Stephenson Park to see the mature Sawtooth oaks and historic buildings. Once you’re cooled off in the shade of the trees, dash across the park through the sweltering sun and visit the Edmond Historical Society & Museum. There you can find more information about the Rodkey family, an outstanding Children’s Learning Center, and other fascinating displays of Edmond’s history. When you’re done playing, get to planting! We need some new shade trees.
-Ryan Ochsner, Urban Forestry Coordinator
Take a look at more topics from June's Tree Mail message.
Check out last quarter's Tree Species Highlight, the Arizona cypress.