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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Quercus | Search the catalog for: Quercus

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Rhamnus purshiana, Pyrus, Nyssa, Hovenia, Oxydendrum arboreum, Cornus nuttallii, Malus, Crataegus, Native plants--Care and maintenance, Quercus, Prunus, Acer

Can you recommend some tree species (deciduous) that can have wet feet but will also tolerate dry conditions in the summer? The recommendations should be trees that are not too messy (no cottonwoods or alders, please) and not too big. I would like to plant some trees near a swale in my yard - so they could be sitting in soggy ground during the winter.


Following is a list of possibilities, most of which come from Water Conserving Plants for the Pacific Northwest West of the Cascades (by the N.W. Perennial Alliance, 1993). The list includes only trees that 1) thrive in soils which are waterlogged in the winter, and, 2) grow to less than 40 feet tall.

ACER (maple):
A. buergeranum (trident maple)
A. campestre (field maple)
A. ginnala (Amur maple)
A. circinatum (vine maple)
CORNUS nuttallii (western dogwood)
C. douglasii (black hawthorn)
C. monogyna
C. phaenopyrum (Washington thorn)
C. x lavallei (Carriere hawthorn)
HOVENIA dulcis (Japanese raisin tree)
MALUS fusca (Pacific crab apple)
NYSSA sylvatica (black gum)
OXYDENDRUM arboreum (sourwood)
PRUNUS (prune/plum/cherry):
P. virginiana var. melanocarpa (chokecherry)
P. emarginata (bitter cherry)
PYRUS (pear):
P. communis (common pear)
P. pyrifolia (Chinese pear, sand pear)
QUERCUS (oak):
Q. acutissima (sawtooth oak)
Q. imbricaria (shingle oak)
RHAMNUS purshiana (cascara)

Date 2017-05-25
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Native plants--Washington, Calocedrus, Quercus

Is incense cedar native to Washington state? And is the Garry oak native to Kitsap County, Washington?


Although incense cedar, Calocedrus decurrens, grows in Washington State, it is not native. According to the Sunset Western Garden Book (2001), incense cedar is native to south and central Oregon, California, western Nevada, and northern Baja California.

The Washington Native Plant Society does not include Garry oak, Quercus garryana, on their list of plants native to Kitsap County, but this tree will grow there.

A list of plants native to Kitsap County

More information on Garry oak at this link

Both of these links are part of the Washington Native Plant Society website.

Date 2017-09-27
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Limonium, Helichrysum, Skimmia, Elaeagnus, Echinops, Alstroemeria, Callicarpa, Calluna, Aster, Lavandula, Achillea, Quercus, Viburnum, Dahlia, Cotoneaster, Acer

My son and his sweetheart are planning a wedding in Seattle (my hometown) this coming September and would love to use seasonal flowers and greenery. I have not lived in the area for many years and am at a loss. Can you give us some suggestions please?


Here are some of the plants which are available in September: Achillea (Yarrow)
Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily)
Callicarpa bodinieri (beautyberry)
Cotoneaster (for foliage)
Elaeagnus (foliage)
Hebe (flowers and foliage)
Helichrysum (straw flower)
Acer (Maple: foliage)
Quercus (Oak: foliage)
Limonium (Statice)
Viburnum tinus

Here is a link to the Washington Park Arboretum web page of seasonal highlights.

A great book on flowers by season is A Year Full of Flowers: Fresh Ideas to Bring Flowers into Your Life Every Day by Jim McCann and Julie McCann Mulligan.

Date 2017-12-08
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Arbutus unedo, Pruning shrubs, Osmanthus, Quercus, Viburnum, Pruning trees

When is the proper time to prune Arbutus unedo? How much can be pruned at a given time? Same question for Osmanthus decorus, Viburnum odoratissimum, and Quercus reticulata.


According to The American Horticultural Society's Pruning & Training edited by Christopher Brickell (DK Publishing, 1996), you can prune Arbutus unedo in spring, as soon as danger of frost is past (that would be early April in Seattle), but keep pruning to a minimum. Some people choose to remove lower branches to create a taller trunk on younger trees.

The book Pruning: A Practical Guide by Peter McHoy (Abbeville Press, 1993) says that Osmanthus decorus can be clipped in late summer. If you want to limit its size without clipping, prune back long shoots to points far inside the shrub in late spring or early summer, after flowering. If the plant is overgrown, you can spread this type of pruning over two or three years, but do not do it annually. I am not familiar with this species of Osmanthus, but I do know Osmanthus delavayi, and grow it as a hedge. It is sheared after it flowers, and then probably two more times before winter. I did have to prune the top back quite hard last year, and this did not seem to cause any problems, but O. decorus may have different needs.

I could not find information about Viburnum odoratissimum specifically, but most pruning books have general guidelines for Viburnum species. Unless you do not mind losing the flowers, it is best to prune when flowering is done. If you are growing V. odoratissimum as a tree, then special pruning may be needed. George E. Brown's The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers (Timber Press, 2004) says V. odoratissimum is somewhat tender, and may grow best as a standing bush with the protection of a wall, using ties in places to keep it close to the wall. The only pruning he mentions is cutting out older wood after flowering, and tying new growth back to the wall (if you are growing your plant in a site where you can do this).

According to the Peter McHoy book, oaks do not require routine pruning. Brown's book says not to prune oaks between mid-spring and mid-summer, as a means of protecting against oak wilt and beetle infestation. If you must prune, do it in winter.

Quercus reticulata is not a common tree, nor are the species of Viburnum and Osmanthus you are growing. Unless there are compelling reasons to prune harder, I would suggest sticking to the 3 D's of pruning: take out only dead, diseased, and disordered branches. Another general rule of thumb is never to remove more than 1/3 of the plant at one time. You might want to consult a certified arborist as well. You can find arborists through Plant Amnesty's referral service or the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

Date 2017-05-26
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Leaf marcescence, Leaf abscission, Quercus, Fall foliage

I have a large lawn with a southern exposure, and fairly good drainage. I would like to plant 1-3 large shade trees. I have been considering northern red oaks for the location, as they seem to grow well in this climate, should provide good shade, and they have nice fall color. However, I don't like oaks which keep their dead leaves through the winter (as Scarlet oaks do). I find the dead leaves unsightly and messy, and I will not want the shade in the winter. Do red oaks also keep their dead leaves on their branches in this manner? If so, have you another recommendation, other than maples?


According to the Sunset Western Garden Book, pin oak (Quercus palustris) keeps its brown leaves through the winter, but Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) loses them in fall. The retention of leaves in fall (meaning that they delay dropping them until spring) is a phenomenon called marcescence. At times young trees of other oak species, even Quercus rubra, can keep their leaves all winter, particularly if it is an unusual winter. You might consider Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) or sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) for fall color with more reliable leaf drop.

Date 2018-03-14
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Forest products, Quercus, Fungi and mushrooms, Tree identification

I am looking for advice on how to obtain an oak log or two. I got some shiitake mushroom starter plugs at the garden show in Seattle, and it seems that they grow best on oak logs. But I am having the hardest time trying to find one or two oak logs to plant them in. I've tried craigslist, and can't seem to find a thing. My tree identification skills are not exactly up to par, and I don't know the rules for cutting parts of trees in the forest, so I wonder if you have any advice for a novice mushroom grower. I really only need two logs, about 6 inches in diameter and maybe 3-4 feet long. This is proving to be a much more daunting task than I ever imagined!


Have you tried contacting Plant Amnesty? They maintain a list of certified arborists, some of whom will probably have occasion to prune or cut down an oak tree at some point. That might be one way of obtaining a log.

You might also try posting on the Pacific Northwest Garden Exchange (watch out--annoying ads!).

As far as cutting branches on public forest land, you should contact the Washington Department of Natural Resources before proceeding. They have information on harvesting and collecting forest products, and how to obtain a firewood permit.

Once oak trees have leafed out fully, they should be easier to identify. See the following tree identification guides:

Date 2018-06-22
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Quercus, Phytophthora, Nuts

I have a few acres in South Kitsap where I am creating pasture by cutting down many of our firs and pines. We will have herds of goats and sheep and swine. I like the idea of acorns for swine and the increased btu of oak for firewood. From my research, it seems that Garry oak and White oak grow too slowly, while Red oak and Pin oak are fast and produce a lot of acorns.

So, I'm leaning towards Red and Pin Oaks, particularly Pin Oaks, but is the fact that these aren't native a problem? Would these trees grow well in the Pacific Northwest, in sandy loam with low nitrogen a pH of 5.3. The soil has pretty good organic matter, Potassium and Magnesium. The trees will be planted in a full sun to mostly sunny area, but depending on the angle of the sun, the surrounding firs throw a pretty big shadow.

Are there other oaks with good acorns I should consider?

Also, is Sudden Oak Death a problem in the Puget Sound?


I'll start with your last question first. Washington State University has a Sudden Oak Death information page. A summary of the work researchers are doing may be found in a 2013 edition of WSU's online newsletter, On Solid Ground.

I have certainly heard that it is present in our region. If you are concerned, you may want to purchase from nurseries with certifications from the USDA Plant Health Inspection Service saying that they are free of the disease. Here is a list of nurseries that have such a certificate. Interestingly, the plants on which Phytophthora ramorum has been detected (in nurseries) in our state are not oaks, but Rhododendron, Viburnum, Camellia, Kalmia, and Pieris. Outside of nurseries, the pathogen has only been found on salal.

The USDA Plant Health Inspection Service has a list of other plants which are hosts of SOD.

Returning to your questions about species of oak, Oregon State University's Landscape Plants Database has information about Quercus rubra (Red oak)and Quercus palustris which confirm that they prefer sunny sites. Red oak will produce acorns in two years. Pin oak is one of the fastest growing oaks, and its acorns (also produced after 2 years) are small.

Local tree expert Arthur Lee Jacobson has this to say about Quercus rubra in his Trees of Seattle (2006):

"New Jersey's State Tree proves to be Seattle's fastest-growing oak, on average. [...] the safest bet if you want an oak in a hurry is to plant a Red oak--and then stand back!" Here is what he says about pin oak, Quercus palustris: "Seattle's most abundant oak. [...] Pin oak is slender in all respects: trunk, limb, branch, twig, leaf--only the tiny squat acorns belie the name. Rapidly growing, it can attain up to 135' x 23 1/4". Inexperienced tree-watchers must be careful not to confuse it with Scarlet oak, which is less common, less slender, makes bigger acorns [...]."

The only aspect of your site description that concerns me, as far as these two oak choices, is the sun exposure--you might want to see how far the shadow of the firs extend, as these oaks will do best in sun. Unless your goal is to plant native species only, I do not see a problem with adding these non-natives to your landscape. You can certainly add lots of native shrubs and perennials if you feel that would be advantageous. There are some excellent resources for selecting native plants:
Washington Native Plant Society's landscaping guides
King County's interactive Native Plant Guide

As far as other good acorn-producing oaks which are also large trees, I can see that Arthur Lee Jacobson mentions English oak (Quercus robur) for its large acorns--and this is also potentially a very large tree (150' x 40+'). Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) has notably large acorns too. Burr oak (Quercus macrocarpa) has the largest acorns, but does not do very well in our area. The native Garry oak (too slow a grower for your needs) Quercus garryana does produce acorns.

If you want to diversify the source of nuts (in case of Sudden Oak Death), you might want to consider adding some hazels and filberts (Corylus species) which should do well here. (I don't know if pigs and goats will eat these, though.)

Date 2018-04-11
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May 31 2018 13:14:08