Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Quercus Imbricaria

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Quercus imbricaria (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus imbricaria (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 20m

Eventual Spread: 20m

Hardiness: 5a – 9a

Family: Fagaceae

Quercus imbricaria is a deciduous tree with a conical habit, becoming rounded with age. Its glossy dark green leaves are elliptic to lanceolate with entire margins, up to 15cm long and 5cm wide. Its leaves turn yellow/ brown to red/ brown in autumn before they fall. Some leaves may persist on the tree through the winter months. Its trunk may achieve a diameter of 1m. Its  brown/ gray bark is furrowed, becoming ridged with age. Its yellow/ green flowers are monoecious, 7cm long catkins and appear with or just before its leaves appear in spring. Its fruit are rounded acorns and are up to 2cm long.

Quercus imbricaria Autumn Leaf (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus imbricaria Autumn Leaf (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus imbricaria, commonly known as the Shingle Oak, is native to eastern and central USA.

The etymological root of the binomial name Quercus is derived from the Latin name for an Oak tree, but some authorities believe it to be derived from the Celtic quer meaning ‘fine’ and cuez meaning ‘a tree’. Imbricaria is derived from the Latin meaning ‘overlaping order’.

The landscape architect may find Quercus imbricaria useful as an attractive specimen tree with autumn color. It is also a suitable for use as hedging tree. This tree is tolerant of urban conditions. Once established this tree is drought tolerant.

Quercus imbricaria Bark (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus imbricaria Bark (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Quercus imbricaria acorns are attractive to birds and mammals.

Quercus imbricaria prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Quercus imbricaria requires little maintenance.

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