The Northern Red Oak has been on our mind pretty much daily this past month or two and we'll tell you why in a moment. The history, lore and sheer strength of this tree is awe-inspiring. Living over 100 years and growing over 100 feet tall, this majestic tree is the stuff of legends. While red oaks are native to north central North America, oaks are widespread across Europe and the trees have been held in high regard among the Greeks, Roman and Celtic cultures. The Druids held ceremonies among oak groves believing the trees sacred.
Red Oaks are an integral part of Northern Forests. They grow fairly slowly but do produce acorns which feed a multitude of animals. Red Oaks are unique in that the acorns take two years to mature and drop. They also hold their leaves on the branches until there are 11 hours of daylight, leaving them very obvious in a late fall as they still maintain many of their leaves when it snows. The Red Oak gets its name from the reddish leaves it boasts in the fall and perhaps also from the reddish wood of the tree. Red Oaks grow in conjunction with several fungus species and don't tolerate a wet soil.
The reason this beautiful tree has been on our mind a lot lately is because they are infected with Oak Wilt in our area. And it's killing hundreds if not thousands of trees. We have to have one our lovely oaks taken down this winter as it died suddenly this summer. We don't mind the extra firewood from one tree but we have multiple huge old oaks dying on the property right now. We know that forests grow and change and different tree species succeed others in a good forest but it is heartbreaking to see so many of these majestic trees grow brown and suddenly drop their leaves. We can only accept the loss and plant some native trees in their place next spring.