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Oaks and Friends

(To include Chrysolepis, Castanopsis, Notholithocarpus, and others as they become available.)

We think evergreen oaks (and a few select deciduous species) are just grand, and in more ways than one! With appealing form, foliage, and texture; and (for the most part, exceptions as noted) superior tolerance of poor soils and drought; they are among the most valuable broadleaf evergreens for Northwest gardens, and there is a near infinite variety of them. They remain undeservedly scarce in nurseries but we are doing our part to change that.

 
Quercus faginea subsp. alpestris - PORTUGESE OAK
$10
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 5

This plant has a rather confused taxonomy: some sources call it its own species, Q. alpestris; while others make no distinction whatsoever from Q. faginea. In any event we received the seed as Q. alpestris. Native to Spain, Portugal and Algeria; it is a rugged-looking, smaller oak, likely remaining shrubby in cultivation, that can live for a long time and is perfectly adapted to Mediterranean climates. It is said to be semi-deciduous but our seedlings did not drop any leaves over their first winter. As the leaves mature we expect them to become dark green or grey-green above and felty grey below, which ought to be nice. So far it has been very easy to grow: it ought to grow great in the Pacific Northwest yet I can't say I have ever seen it here. We don't know how hardy this is yet, but at least 5°F is probably a safe bet and it may even be hardy to -10°F or lower.

 
Quercus garryana [Sequim] IB382 - OREGON WHITE OAK
$10
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -20°F or below

Also called Garry oak, this is one of Washington's most special native trees, and the only oak species native to Washington and British Columbia. Although its distribution is now reduced mostly to drier areas west of the Cascades, it is thought to have been more widespread in the past when our climate was warmer and drier. It's deciduous, with dark green leaves, and has a lot of character: its habit is certainly very rugged and may even be described as "creepy" if you're easily spooked! In gardens it is not difficult to grow, but it is very slow and needs good drainage and sun. Although completely drought tolerant once established, plenty of summer water will dramatically improve its growth rate. After a great many years it may reach 60' with greater spread. This collection is from local Sequim seeds, where what used to be an oak prairie is now mostly lost to development and agriculture. Hardy to -20°F or below.

Quercus garryana IB477 - OREGON WHITE OAK
New Spring 2013!
$12
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -30°F or below

Also called Garry oak, this is one of Washington's most special native trees, and the only oak species native to Washington and British Columbia. Although its distribution is now reduced mostly to drier areas west of the Cascades, it is thought to have been more widespread in the past when our climate was warmer and drier. It's deciduous, with dark green leaves, and has a lot of character: its habit is certainly very rugged and may even be described as "creepy" if you're easily spooked! In gardens it is not difficult to grow, but it is very slow and needs good drainage and sun. Although completely drought tolerant once established, plenty of summer water will dramatically improve its growth rate. After a great many years it may reach 60' with greater spread. Now here's a little known fact: this tree is not restricted to west of the Cascades in nature, and is much more cold-tolerant than commonly believed! It occurs east of the Cascades in the Columbia Gorge area and a few other places, and plants from these areas should extend the potential use of this species well into USDA zone 5 and possibly 4. This is one such collection, coming from the Oak Creek area along US 12 between White Pass and Yakima. Try it in Kalispell, or Milwaukee.

Quercus hypoleucoides - SILVERLEAF OAK
$16
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -15°F

We can't come up with enough wonderful descriptive terms for this beautiful, versatile, and undeservedly rare evergreen tree. Not only is it our favorite oak, we think it is about everyone's favorite oak who has seen it! Native to the "sky islands" of the Southwest, its distinguishing feature is grey-green leaves backed with beautiful white indumentum that appears as silver when they shimmer in the wind and shine brightly when the sunlight hits them. It also has an appealing habit, growing into a rounded tree of 30' or so over time, and it is moderately vigorous. It will grow in dry or irrigated gardens, but should be in full sun (or nearly) for best results. We rate this to -15°F, but in one instance it endured -22°F in Denver without significant harm. Try it in Spokane!

 
Quercus ilex - HOLM OAK
$10
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about 0°F

This stately evergreen tree is native to the Mediterranean region, where it has many uses including shade, firewood, and general construction. One can also toast the acorns and eat them. It does very well in the Pacific Northwest, being completely drought tolerant and a useful broadleaf evergreen for our region (there is even a street planting of it in Port Townsend). Left to itself it may grow to 40 - 50' over time, but it can also be clipped into an appealing hedge, where it will remain nice and green with a lot less maintenance than, say, Photinia. The leaves are dark lustrous green above and an appealing pale grey or almost white below. And did we mention it's very easy to grow? Try one, and if you don't have space for it in your yard, give it to your neighbor so you can always enjoy it!

Quercus reticulata - NETLEAF OAK
$12
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about -15°F

Although we might be a little bit confused about the taxonomy of Quercus rugosa vs. Q. reticulata, I think our plants are correctly Q. reticulata. This rugged small evergreen tree is one of many plants from the mountains of the Southwest that performs splendidly in Northwest gardens. It is perfect for the dry garden, though it will also tolerate irrigation, and in very challenging sites it may grow slowly without supplemental water. It may eventually reach 25' but is somewhat slow to start off. Variable in appearance, this form has relatively large, dark green leaves and makes a dense canopy over time.

 
Quercus rhysophylla hybrids
$9
Fagaceae · Drought resistance code 4?

Every time we sow Quercus rhysophylla we get mostly hybrids for some reason. We are not really sure what the other parent is this time, but it is something with smoother leaves than Q. rhysophylla. So far the plants are evergreen but we don't guarantee they will stay that way. Hardiness ought to be at least 0°F, but it may be much lower. Be the first on your block to have this mystery hybrid oak!