Last week seemed like the time for the area oak trees to shine. Their rusty gold and burgundy colors stretched to the sky as they stubbornly held onto their leaves through wind and rain.
Meanwhile, the acorns have been falling from the sky in a veritable hailstorm. Anyone who has ever parked their vehicle under a mighty oak during this time quickly realizes that there are better places for their automobiles to be. Acorns falling on a tin roof can may be mistaken as gunshots and cause one to ponder if perhaps deer season has started earlier this year.
Pennsylvania is home to six varieties of oak trees – the black, chestnut, northern red, scarlet, white and pin oaks. These trees are vital food sources for wildlife and provide wood for humans.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Nature Resources’ website provides information and descriptions of the commonwealth’s trees. The booklet titled “Common Trees of Pennsylvania” may be viewed and downloaded under the forestry section of www.dcnr.state.pa.us.
A little about oaks
The black oak can reach heights of 75 feet and grow in dry, upland sites. The DCNR said the acorns are eaten by wildlife, but are not preferred. This probably translates to “when absolutely nothing else is available to eat.”
The chestnut oak which is also known as the rock oak or basket oak can grow to 80 feet high. It produces large crops of acorns every four to seven years, according to the DCNR.
The northern red oak can grow to 90 feet tall and has acorns ripening over two seasons.
At 75-feet-tall, the scarlet oak is described as a medium to large tree. The DCNR said that the trees are often plagued by a fungus that rots their wood. The website describes the white oak as a dominant forest tree that reaches 80 to 100 feet tall. It also mentioned that Native Americans used its acorns to make a flour.
The pin oak prefers wet sites and grows to a height of 60 feet, according to the DCNR.
(A Walk in the Woods contains photos from newsroom staffer Anna Applegate’s daily jaunts around her neck of the woods. Tagging along on the treks are dogs, Buford and Sherman, and goats, Kyle and Kennedy. Applegate manages the Good Times and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)