Texas is home to a wide variety of oak species with unique characteristics and range within the state. Because many of these species are drought tolerant, they are well-suited to this hot and dry climate.
Oak trees are a keystone species in Texas and crucial in maintaining ecosystem health and biodiversity. They support more wildlife species than any other tree through habitat and as a food source. Each oak tree can produce up to 3 million acorns in its lifetime and drop 700,000 leaves per year. This is a substantial amount of food for birds, squirrels, deer, insects, and decomposers. According to the National Wildlife Federation, oak trees support 952 separate caterpillar species, more than any other tree in North America. Caterpillars comprise 96% of the primary food source for nesting songbirds and their chicks.
Needless to say, oaks are super trees. Top-ranking for air quality improvement, carbon sequestration, preventing soil erosion and absorbing pollutants in the soil. They pull ozone, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants from our air. Their expansive canopies shade surfaces and reduce temperatures by as much as 10 degrees while reducing air conditioning needs by up to 30%. And, a scientific study proved Live Oaks were the top-performing tree for neutralizing pollutants in the soil.
These majestic trees can outlive generations, connecting the past with the present and providing a living link to our heritage.
“With their enduring strength and timeless beauty, oak trees have earned a place as cherished
heirlooms in many families and communities,” says Kevin Martin, certified arborist from Davey Tree Austin. “They continue to be a mainstay in the landscape with their ability to create an inviting space for gatherings or a peaceful place of refuge.”
There are varieties of oaks that thrive in each region of Texas. “Before planting an oak tree, consider your soil type, climate, and local growing conditions,” says Martin. “Plan for the size of a mature oak tree, and if possible, plant them in groupings of three. This allows the root systems to grow together and provide more stability.”
Here is a list of oak tree species Martin recommends by region:
> Live Oak in most regions in Texas, including central and coastal. This oak species has a distinctive and sprawling canopy covered with lush evergreen foliage.
> Post Oak in East Texas and areas with sandy soils. Post Oaks are popular in landscapes due to their attractive foliage and natural shape. Their leaves are deeply lobed and glossy green and can turn shades of red and brown in the fall.
> Chinquapin oak in Central and North Texas. Named for leaves similar to a Chestnut tree, this species has sweet acorns that are a favorite for wildlife.
> Lacey Oak in Central and South Texas. Lacey Oaks have peach-colored new growth that turns bluish-green with maturity and a more compact growth habit, making them suitable for smaller landscapes.
> Bur Oak in North and Central Texas. This species grows into a rounded form and has distinct oversized fringed acorns.
Another advantage of oak trees is the beauty they add to the landscape. Mature oak trees have a majestic presence and can create a timeless feel. Martin recommends Chinquapin Oaks for their vivid show of bright yellow and orange-hued leaves in fall. Other species, he says, such as the Live Oak, provide winter interest with their evergreen color.
Oak trees have many benefits and support a wide range of organisms over their life span, stretching upwards to 400 years. It’s important to conserve and protect these trees to ensure their benefits are sustained for future generations.
Have questions about planting new oak trees or protecting existing ones? Contact Kevin Martin at 512-817-5300, or visit Davey.com to find your local office.
Cover Photo Courtesy Davey Tree.