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A Floridata Plant Profile #601 Quercus shumardii
Common Names: Shumard oak, Shumard red oak
Family: Fagaceae (beech Family)
Wallpaper Gallery (2 images)

tree  Drought Tolerant Provides Autumn Color

mature Shumard oak
A majestic, mature Shumard oak in autumn color lights up the southwestern Ohio landscape.
young Shumard oak
Because the shumard oak is deep rooted it is often used in commercial plantings. The photo shows one planted in a parking lot median strip - there's no worry that roots will heave the pavement as the tree ages.
Shumard oak is a deciduous tree that usually gets about 75 ft (22 m) tall with a broad, open crown that spreads about 40 ft (12 m) across. On really good sites, Shumard oak is one of the largest of the southern oaks, reaching more than 100 ft (30 m) in height with a tall, straight trunk 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) in diameter. It sometimes gets even larger: the record Shumard, in South Carolina, is 155 ft (46.5 m) tall with a trunk diameter over 6 ft (2 m) and a crown spread of 116 ft (34.8 m)! The leaves of shumard oak are variable, 6-8 in (15-20 cm) long, with 7, 9 or 11 bristle-tipped lobes with sinuses that extend half way to the midvein. In fall the leaves turn red or golden brown. The flowers are typical of oaks in general: female flowers are tiny and held in small inconspicuous spikes, and male flowers are clustered in hanging catkins about 6 in (15 cm) long. Flowers appear with the opening of the leaves in early spring. The acorns are about an inch (2.5 cm) long with a deep, saucer-shaped cup that encloses about a third of the nut.

Shumard oak looks a lot like scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), which has smaller leaves; and northern red oak (Q. rubra), which has leaves less deeply lobed and an acorn whose cup encloses only a quarter of the nut.

Shumard oak hybridizes with other oak species including southern red oak (Q. falcata), willow oak (Q. phellos), water oak (Q. nigra), and blackjack oak (Q. marilandica), and the results of such miscegenations may look like either parent or something in between or even something unlike either parent.

Quercus shumardii grows in rich, moist woods, especially near creeks or swamps, in the southeastern U.S. from Virginia to Illinois and Kansas, and south to Texas and central Florida. There are a few isolated localities scattered as far north as Pennsylvania and Michigan. Shumard oak usually occurs singly or in small groups in mixed hardwood forests in association with black oak (Q. velutina), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), white oak (Q. alba), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), cherrybark oak (Q. falcata var. pagodafolia), and several species of hickory (Carya spp.). It is generally uncommon and localized in its distribution.

In various parts of its range, Shumard oak can be found growing on acidic, neutral or alkaline soils, but stock from acidic soils will not thrive in limey soils.
Light: Seedlings must have full sun to develop. Older, established saplings and trees can tolerate partial shade.
Moisture: Shumard oak does best in well drained soil with regular moisture. Established specimens are drought tolerate, but they may drop leaves during extreme droughts.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 10.
Propagation: Plant acorns out in fall for spring germination. Most oaks, Shumard included, are difficult to propagate from cuttings.

Shumard oak leaves
Shumard oak leaves are variable but usually have 7, 9 or 11 bristle-tipped lobes and are 6-8 in (15-20 cm) long.
Shumard oak leaves
Shumard oak leaves in autumn color.
Summertime shade and brilliant fall color make the Shumard oak a good choice as a shade tree for a large landscape. They are often planted as street trees or along pathways and sidewalks. Shumard oak can withstand a wetter soil than the similar northern red oak.

The reddish-brown wood, marketed as red oak, is hard, heavy and close-grained. It is very valuable and used for veneer, flooring, and furniture.

Oaks are the most important and most widespread hardwood trees in the northern temperate zone. There are about 500 species of oaks occurring mainly in north temperate parts of the world, but also at high elevations in the tropics. There are about 70 species in the U.S., of which ten grow as shrubs, not trees.

The oaks can be divided into two major groups: members of the white oak group have rounded leaf lobes and tips, and edible acorns that mature in one year; members of the red oak group have bristles on the leaf lobes and tips, and bitter acorns that take two years to mature. Shumard oak is in the red oak group.

Acorns are a very important wildlife food, and many species depend upon them for winter survival. Populations of deer, squirrels, bear, turkey, wood duck and many more animals increase and decrease with the annual (and variable) acorn crop.

Steve Christman 11/20/99; updated 06/27/07, 11/9/07, 11/11/10

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