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A Floridata Plant Profile #1211 Quercus cerris
Common Names: Turkish oak, Turkey oak
Family: Fagaceae (beech Family)
Wallpaper Gallery (1 images)

tree  Drought Tolerant Has Ornamental (non-edible) Fruit Provides Autumn Color
bur oak
This Turkish oak makes its home at Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in southwestern Ohio.
bur oak
The Turkish oaks tend to retain some dead foliage through the winter.

Turkish oak is a large deciduous oak with dense foliage. It can get 80-100 ft (24-30 m) or more in height, with a stout trunk up to 6 ft (2 m) in diameter. Turkish oak usually has a conical or rounded crown, and large trees can extend up to 80 ft (24 m) across. Most specimens are quite a bit smaller, though. The bark is grayish and splits into squarish plates separated by deep fissures. Small branches and twigs are covered in a downy fuzz. The leaves are elliptic to lance shaped, and relatively small, just 2-5 in (5-13 cm) long. The leaf margins have 3-8 pairs of lobes, often with bristle-tipped teeth on the lobes. Leaves turn yellowish brown in autumn. Acorns, maturing in their second year, are about 1-1.5 in (2.5-3.75 cm) long and shaped like little footballs. The cups enclose about half the nut and are densely covered in long slender scales that look like shaggy moss.

A popular landscaping tree in Europe, Turkish oak has several named selections. 'Argenteovariegata' has leaves with creamy yellow margins, and is a smaller tree, to just 50 ft (15 m) tall. 'Lanciniata' has very deeply lobed leaves, almost fernlike. 'Pendula' is a weeping form whose lower branches often lie on the ground. The botanical variety austrica, known as Austrian Turkey oak, has wider leave with shallow lobes that are broad and triangular.

Turkish oak, Quercus cerris, grows in forests in central and southern Europe and western Asia. It has been widely planted as an ornamental and has become naturalized outside its native range in continental Europe and Britain.

Light: The oaks in general do best in full sun, and can tolerate partial shade.
Moisture: Turkish oak is fairly drought tolerant. Any kind of soil is OK as long as it is well drained.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 9. Turkish oak is probably hardy to Zone 6 and probably will do well in Zone 10, too.
Propagation: Acorns should be planted as soon as they drop in autumn for germination the following spring. Cultivars are grafted onto seedling rootstock.

bur oak foliage
Turkish oak foliage

Turkish oak is a surprisingly fast growing tree that would make a good shade tree for medium to large landscapes. It apparently is very adaptable and tolerant of a wide variety of soils, including acidic, alkaline, sandy and clayey. Turkish oak is tolerant of seaside environments, too. Rarely seen in the U.S., this handsome tree, and especially the cultivar 'Argenteovariegata', is much appreciated in European gardens.

Despite the large size of the tree, the wood of Turkish oak is brittle and prone to cracking, and of little commercial value except for paneling and fence posts.

Many of the books call this Eurasian tree "Turkey oak", but that sounds like "turkey oak" (lower case) (Quercus laevis), which is one of the most common and abundant oaks where I live in Florida. I prefer to call it Turkish oak.

We commonly think of the oaks as falling into one of two groups: the red oak group or the white oak group, and that system works pretty well for the New World oaks. (See Floridata's profile of northern red oak (Quercus rubra) for a definition of the two groups.

Technically, however, the botanists divide Quercus into two subgenera based on acorn structure: subgenus Cyclobalanopsis, with three species in Asia, and subgenus Quercus for the remaining 600 or so species. Subgenus Quercus is further divided into four sections, based on flower and acorn structure: Section Cerris includes Turkish oak and a few other species occurring in southern Europe and southwestern Asia and also in eastern Asia; section Quercus, including the many species in our simplified "white oak group"; section Protobalanus , including five species found only southwestern North America; and section Erythrobalanus, including the many species in the American "red oak group".

Steve Christman 2/4/13

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