Willow oak... Quercus phellos. Progress?

Jay Wilson

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I collected this little willow oak in 2002 (first pic.)

I'm kind of embarassed to post the first few pictures but the progress of the tree mirrors my own stumbling along the bonsai road.

Second pic is in 2003.

Third is in 2004 and four is in the spring of 2005.

More to come,
Jay
 

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Jay Wilson

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As you can see, I really had nothing to work with... A couple of sticks sitting on top of a ugly trunk.

I also had fallen into the newbie trap of getting the tree into a bonsai pot and trying to make something out of it. It's a wonder that it didn't die. (pic one)

Finally, in the summer of 05, I realized that the tree had was going nowhere with the horrible trunk and the out of context limbs growing off the top. So, I decided to ground layer the trunk to bring the branches down to be two trunks instead.

I cut a section of bark off and planted it in a pond basket.....Only I didn't make the cut wide enough or deep enough or plant it deep enough in the basket.

Jay
 

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Jay Wilson

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Here it is in 2006 before I repotted (Pic one)

This is what I found when I took it out of the pot.....The ground layer had failed, the cut area had just formed a callous and the cambium had grown back below the cut. (pic two)

So, I cut wider and deeper, put probably too much rooting hormone on it and put it back in the basket.(pic three)

The fourth pic is in the spring of 2007 just before I unpotted it.

Are ya'll bored yet?
Jay
 

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Graydon

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Cool Jay - glad to see you back around and working with Florida native trees.

Is this the oak you brought to the weekend workshop earlier this year, the one with the thread grafts? I think it's not as I think I remember that one as a single trunk.

I think if you can get the layer to work it will fatten up well and work in to a nice little tree.
 

Jay Wilson

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Well, this time the layer was more succesfull so I cut the lower trunk off and planted the tree into a screened bottomed grow box. The tree has leafed out nicely and for now I'm just letting it grow as it will until the roots have grown strong again.

I realize there is still a long way to go with the styling and refinement but I like the direction this little oak is going.


So, have I made some progress toward a credible bonsai or am I looking at this tree while being blind in one eye?

Thanks,
Jay
 

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JasonG

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Hi Jay,

The last picture shows the making of a nice little bonsai or tree, I like it!!!. Good job for sticking with it and developing this little guy. It has come a long ways from your first picture.

Thanks for posting!

Jason
 

Tachigi

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That tree has come along nicely Jay! I have a few I collected in Alabama while visiting my in laws. Collecting them was a nice ...errrrrr...... diversion.

Below is an article by Colin Lewis I had squirreled away and his thoughts on Willow Oak.


Willow Oak

Quercus phellos

I've seen this species growing in the Washington, Virginia, North Carolina area and fell in love with it. I have never seen it as a bonsai, but I am convinced it would make a good subject.


Willow oak (Quercus phellos), also known as peach oak, pin oak, and swamp chestnut oak, grows on a variety of moist alluvial soils, commonly on lands along water courses.

This medium to large southern oak with willow like foliage is known for its rapid growth and long life. It is an important source of lumber and pulp, as well as an important species to wildlife because of heavy annual acorn production. It is also a favored shade tree, easily transplanted and used widely in urban areas.

Habitat

Native Range

Willow oak is found mainly in bottom lands of the Coastal Plain from New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania south to Georgia and northern Florida; west to eastern Texas; and north in the Mississippi Valley to southeastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Kentucky, and western Tennessee.

Climate

The climate in which willow oak grows is humid and temperate, characterized by long, hot summers and mild, short winters. It grows mainly in the zone where daily normal temperatures are above 0° C (32° F). Frost-free days number 180 to 190 in the north-northeastern range and 300 in the south-southwestern range. Average summer temperatures vary from 21° to 27° C (70° to 80° F), with extremes of 38° to 46° C (100° to 115° F). Average winter temperatures range from -4° to 13° C (25° to 55° F) with extremes to -29° C (-20° F). Average annual temperatures throughout the range are 10° to 21° C (50° to 70° F).

Across the entire range, surface winds in the summer are off the Gulf of Mexico and winter winds are variable. Normally there are about 2,700 hours of sunshine annually in willow oak's range. Relative humidity at noon ranges from 60 to 70 percent in January and 50 to 70 percent in July.

Annual precipitation varies from 1020 to 1520 mm (40 to 60 in) and is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year; there is slightly more precipitation in the summer in the southeastern portion of the range. Greatest precipitation is in the central Gulf area. Average annual snowfall varies from 0 to 127 cm (0 to 50 in) over the range. The normal number of days with snow cover of at least 2.5 cm (1 in) varies from 0 to 40.



Soils and Topography

Willow oak grows on a variety of alluvial soils and is found on ridges and high flats on first bottoms of major streams. On second bottoms it grows on ridges, flats, and sloughs and can be very common in some minor stream bottoms. It develops best on clay loam ridges of new alluvium. Studies show that site quality of willow oak decreases from the higher to the lower topographic positions within a floodplain.

Willow oak is rarely found on upland sites but is occasionally seen on hard pan areas of very old terraces and on hammocks or bays. Trees on these sites are usually of poor quality.

In addition to topography, willow oak quality and growth rate are affected by soil characteristics and available moisture. In the Mississippi Delta, site quality decreases within each topographic position as clay content 30 to 46 cm (12 to 18 in) below the soil surface increases. For the non-Delta region in the South, site quality decreases within a topographic position as available potassium in the top 15 cm (6 in) of soil increases.

The best soils for willow oak growth are those that are deep (more than 1.2 in or 4 ft), without a pan, and relatively undisturbed. They are medium textured, silty or loamy, with no compaction in the surface for 30 cm (12 in) and are granular in the rooting zone below.

In contrast, the worst soils are shallow, have an inherent pan, or have been intensively cultivated for more than 20 years. They are fine textured, clayey, with a strongly compacted surface for 30 cm (12 in) and have a massive structure in the rooting zone.

Moisture must be readily available in the soil during the growing season for best willow oak growth. The ideal water table depth is 0.6 to 1.8 in (2 to 6 ft), while depths less than 0.3 in (I ft) and greater than 3 m (10 ft) are unsuitable. Radial growth is not affected by standing water during the growing season (February to July) (4) but is greatly increased if the water table is artificially raised by impoundments to within 1.2 in (4 ft) of the soil surface.

For best growth, the topsoil should be at least 15 cm (6 in) deep, with more than 2 percent organic matter. Optimally, soil pH in the rooting zone should be 4.5 to 5.5. The site quality worsens as the topsoil becomes more shallow, organic matter decreases, and pH departs from optimum. The soils on which willow oak is most commonly found are in the orders Inceptisols and Alfisols.



Life History

Reproduction and Early Growth

Flowering and Fruiting- Willow oak is monoecious; male and female flowers are in separate catkins on the same tree. Staminate flowers are in slender yellow-green hairy catkins, pistillate flowers are tiny, in few flowered clusters at junction of leaf stems. Flowering occurs from February to May, about a week before the leaf buds open.

Late freezes, after the flower and leaf buds have opened, kill the flowers and defoliate the trees. New leaves develop after the freeze, but a second crop of flowers is not produced.

Seed Production and Dissemination- Seed production starts when the tree is about 20 years old. The acorns are small, 10 to 15 mm (4 to 0.6 in) in length, about as broad as long, occurring solitary or in pairs. They mature between August and October of the second year after flowering. The first acorns to fall usually are not mature, as indicated by failure of the cup to detach easily. Good mature acorns are heavy and have a bright color with a brown micropylar end.

Good seed crops are produced nearly every year. Mature trees produce between 9 and 53 liters (0.25 to 1.5 bu) or about 5.2 to 31.3 kg (11.5 to 69 lb) of acorns per year. Since willow oak averages 603 seeds per liter (21.250/bu), the number of seeds per tree ranges from about 5,400 to 31,900. Seeds are disseminated by animals and, in areas subject to overflow, by water.

Prolonged submersion of willow oak acorns reduces their germination ability slightly, but not enough to affect the species capability to regenerate an area.

The acorns can be stored under moist, cold conditions. For germination, acorn moisture content must not drop below 40 percent; a 50 percent moisture content is preferable. Seeds should be stored at temperatures of 2° to 4° C (35° to 40° F) for 60 to 90 days before planting.

Seedling Development- Seeds germinate the spring following seedfall. Germination is hypogeal. The best seedbed is a moist, well-aerated soil with an inch or more of leaf litter. Early height growth is moderate; on good sites in the southern part of the range, seedlings average 1.4 in (4.5 ft) in 2 years.

Willow oak normally reproduces as a single tree or in very small groups. Reproduction occurs in small to large openings created either naturally or as a result of logging. Successful regeneration usually is the result of the presence of advance regeneration before the stand is disturbed. If willow oak regeneration does not exist on the ground before disturbance, there is little chance that successful regeneration of this species will occur. Seedlings are very intolerant of saturated soil conditions except during the dormant season, when they can tolerate complete submergence without appreciable mortality. After spring foliation, complete submergence longer than 5 to 7 days can be fatal, but seedling mortality usually does not occur unless saturation periods exceed 60 days. During saturation periods, some secondary roots are killed and no adventitious shoots are formed, height growth essentially halts. After the saturation period ends, growth of roots and shoots resumes.

Although willow oak exhibits only medium tolerance to shade, seedlings may persist for as long as 30 years under a forest canopy. They continually die back and re-sprout. As a result they may become misshapen. These seedling-sprouts respond to release.

Vegetative Reproduction- Willow oak readily sprouts from stumps of small trees. Sprouts from advance reproduction are a principal method of natural regeneration. Larger diameter stumps do not sprout readily.

Cuttings taken from young parent trees can be propagated if treated with indoleacetic acid; success decreases with increasing age of the parent tree. Untreated cuttings fail completely. Layering and budding are not effective as a means of vegetative reproduction.

Sapling and Pole Stages to Maturity

Growth and Yield- Willow oak is medium size to large, attaining 24 to 37 m (80 to 120 ft) in height and commonly 100 cm (39.5 in) in d.b.h. On good sites it makes moderately rapid growth. Diameter growth is dependent upon tree size. In unmanaged stands on good sites, trees 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in) in d.b.h. averaged 6.6 cm (2.6 in) diameter growth in 10 years (18). In the 36 to 46 cm (14 to 18 in) class, they grew 7.9 cm (3.1 in) in 10 years; in the 51 to 71 cm (20 to 28 in) class, 7.1 cm (2.8 in). Dominant crop trees in a well-stocked managed stand probably average 8.9 to 10.2 cm (3.5 to 4.0 in) in d.b.h. growth in 10 years, with a maximum of 15.2 cm (6 in).

Willow oak commonly exists as a major component in mixed bottom-land stands. In a fairly typical stand near Stoneville, MS, willow oak basal area averages 7.1 m/ha (31 ft/acre) out of a total of 21.1 m/ha (92.0 ft/acre). The same willow oak component of the stand averages 57 273 kg/ha (51,100 lb/acre) of total dry fiber, 64 percent of which is contained in the bole; 87 percent of the total is contained in trees larger than 43.2 cm (17 in).

Willow oak has been successfully planted in stream bottoms or branch heads. After 17 years, trees averaged 10.9 cm (4.3 in) in d.b.h. and 14 m (46 ft) in height.

Rooting Habit- Where it occurs on alluvial soils, willow oak feeder roots are concentrated in the aerated layer above free water. Here they form extensive ectomycorrhizal associations that aid the tree in taking up nutrients and water and offer some protection against root diseases. Roots do not penetrate into the zone of free-standing water. In the soil region of best growth, root growth usually begins during early March.

Since complete soil saturation during the growing season inhibits root growth of seedlings, it probably has the same effect on mature trees. Production of ectomycorrhizae also is inhibited under saturated soil conditions, but once the excess soil moisture in the upper root zone dissipates, both root and mycorrhizae growth resume. Permanent standing water, however, kills the root system and ultimately the tree.
 

Jay Wilson

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Hey Graydon, Yeah, it's good to finally have some time to do more than just water my trees. Life has been kind of hectic for the last couple of months but it's easing off now.

You're right , this is a different tree than the one you saw at the meeting.

I think this can be a nice little tree one day but I wonder what the advice would have been if I had posted the tree as it was 5 years ago (I'm refering to the 'good advice' thread)



Jason, thanks. I really like this tree but I wondered if it was only me or if others might see some potential as well.

Tom, thank you too. I hope you don't mind if I save that article. Only one thing though...It says the range is only to north florida and I'm in central; fl. Could this be a different oak than willow oak?


Jay
 

Tachigi

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Only one thing though...It says the range is only to north florida and I'm in central; fl. Could this be a different oak than willow oak?
Jay, I noticed that to. Goes to show that not all the pontificators are right all the time. Your willow looks like mine so I'll assume its the same type oak.
 

Behr

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Your willow looks like mine so I'll assume its the same type oak.
The leaves look like mine also...My willow oak does seem to have more scaly, 'oak like', bark on the older trunk, but the newer growth is very green until it forms the older bark...I can't tell from the photos, but is yours this way also?...

Regards
Behr

:) :) :)
 

Jay Wilson

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Hi Behr,
The newer growth is green on my willow oaks also. I wouldn't describe it as very green...Maybe somewhat green. It's especially noticeable when it's wet.

Some of my larger trees have the rougher oak like bark on the trunks and older branches.

Jay
 

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