The magnificent bur oak is sturdy, long-lived, and tolerant of many less-than-perfect growing conditions. Oval to wide-spreading in form, a mature bur oak has a classic, heavy-limbed oak silhouette. It has deep green foliage that may develop yellow to tan fall colour. Its distinctive acorns have large, fringed caps that nearly cover the seed. Bur oak develops thick, corky bark that allows it to withstand fires in its native prairie savannas. Bur oak is used to make wine casks.
Plant Facts- Bur oak is used to make wine casks
- Common name: Bur oak
- Botanical name: Quercus macrocarpa
- Plant type: Large deciduous tree
- Zones: 3 to 9
- Height: 50 to 80 feet
- Family: Fagaceae, beech family
- Sun: Full sun.
- Soil: Adaptable to almost any soil. Tolerates alkaline (high pH) soil better than other oaks.
- Moisture: Keep young trees watered during dry periods; mature trees have good drought tolerance.
- Mulch: Apply 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch in a wide circle around the base of the tree, keeping mulch several inches away from the trunk.
- Pruning: Prune young trees to maintain a single central leader and to develop a good framework of branches. On older trees, prune out dead, damaged, or crossing branches.
- Fertiliser: Apply a balanced fertiliser once per year if needed.
- Collect acorns when they drop in late summer or early fall. Sow directly outdoors; seedlings will emerge in spring.
Pests and diseases
- While bur oak can develop diseases such as anthracnose, leaf spots, and twig blight, they are rarely severe enough to affect the health of the plant.
- Gypsy moth caterpillars and other chewing insects may damage foliage.
- Bur oak is fairly slow growing, but plant it where it will have room to spread over the years.
- Another common name for bur oak is mossycup oak, referring to its fringed acorn caps.
- Bur oak is more tolerant of urban conditions (pollution, dry or compacted soil, high soil pH) than other oaks and makes a fine addition to city parks or large residential lots.
- Bur oak is used to make wine casks.
All in the family
- There are more than 600 species of oaks native to the Northern Hemisphere.
- Oak species include both deciduous and evergreen types and range in height from under 15 feet to over 100 feet.
- Oaks are some of the most valuable timber trees; their wood is used for ships, flooring, furniture, wine casks, picture frames, and many other items.
Delicate, the elder is not. Given the right conditions, this rowdy, rambunctious, suckering shrub can tower over your doorway and eat your perennial bed for breakfast. Don’t plant it with the idea that you can work out a compromise. Instead, put it where you need a large, lanky sentry now and a grand, sprawling elderberry thicket in years to come. Golden elder (Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’) is a popular elderberry cultivar. The compound leaves are yellow to golden-green, and it carries clusters of fragrant white flowers in spring and red berrylike fruits in the fall. Just don’t underestimate this beauty – Golden Elder makes beautiful wine.
- Common name: Golden elder, American elder
- Botanical name: Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’
- Plant type: Deciduous shrub
- Zones: 4 to 9
- Height: 5 to 12 feet tall
- Family: Caprifoliaceae
- Growing conditions
- Sun: Full sun to part shade
- Soil: Rich and humusy
- Moisture: Average to moist
- Mulch: Mulch to help keep soil moist.
- Pruning: Cut suckers to the ground if you want to prevent golden elder from forming a thicket. Prune out dead branches in spring.
- Fertiliser: None needed.
- By cutting. (Since ‘Aurea’ is a cultivar, the seed may not come true.)
Pests and diseases
- Aphids, borers, and spider mites may be problems.
- Vulnerable to powdery mildew, canker, leaf spot, and dieback.
Garden notes – Golden Elder makes beautiful wine
- The flowers of golden elder open in spring or early summer and the fruit ripens in late summer or fall. Ripe fruit is used to make jam, jelly, preserves, and wine.
- Golden Elder makes beautiful wine.
- You’ll get more fruit if you plant at least two different cultivars of elderberry. This allows for cross-pollination.
- Plan for the large size of mature golden elders when you’re deciding where to plant them. Also consider that the shrub will sucker, so give it room to form a thicket (if you want a hedge or natural screen, for instance), or use it as a lawn specimen, where you’ll keep the suckers in check every time you mow. Or prune out the suckers regularly.
- Be careful around elderberries. Contact with the leaves can irritate the skin, and eating any part of the plant except the ripe fruit can cause severe discomfort.
All in the family
- The genus Sambucus contains about 25 species, which are found throughout the world, from Asia to
- Africa to the Americas. The flowers of European elder (S. nigra) are used to make elderflower syrup and elderflower cordial.