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Editor's Picks

Group photos Texas OODs
Five days of oaking in the Lone Star State.
Roderick Cameron | Oct 21, 2023
Tour Participants on Fiddler Peak
An account of the Tour guided by Sean Hogan
Website Editor | Oct 19, 2023
Quercus pacifica
An collection specializing in native Californian oaks
Christina Varnava | Oct 18, 2023

Plant Focus

A small but mature Alabama sandstone oak producing acorns © Patrick Thompson
A Critically Endangered dwarf oak 

Aiken's Oaks Are Growing

International Oak Society members have undertaken to establish remarkable collections of Quercus on public and private properties in various countries around the world. Visiting, seeing, and studying these collections is a favorite activity for IOS members and one of the benefits of membership in our organization. 

Quercus tarahumara
Quercus tarahumara displaying it large, convex, leathery leaves

The town of Aiken, South Carolina has an outstanding oak collection, which is visited by many people, including individual members of the IOS and those who have toured on two occasions. Our trees have continued to grow in size and diversity. The present note is an update on the diversity added to our oak collection in recent years. The two articles linked below report on past IOS visits in 2000 and 2013 and give some of our history, shared experiences, and notes on the collection at the time: 

Aiken, South Carolina: Oak City, USA! – International Oaks No. 13

Oak Open Days: Aiken Oak and Horticultural Tour, USA – International Oaks No. 25

Another note on the IOS website listed many oaks in our collection and reported on damage following a severe (-7.2 °C) frost:

Frost Damage in Aiken, South Carolina on March 15, 2017

Quercus pinnativenulosa
Quercus pinnativenulosa, a rare oak from Sierra Madre Oriental, Mexico

Located in Aiken County, South Carolina (which may have the most native oak species of any county in the U.S.!), Aiken is a city with ample open space, well-drained soils, a warm temperate climate, and a municipal leadership willing to approve and help facilitate the establishment and maintenance of our ongoing collection of oaks and other trees. These advantages have coalesced to make Aiken a unique dendrological park. Aiken’s internationally known rare-plant mail order nursery, Woodlanders, Inc., has over the years been able to propagate, grow, plant out, and tend most of the “special” oaks in our present collection. Circumstances have necessitated, however, that we install these valuable new trees at much smaller and more vulnerable size than would be normal for any municipal landscape. Our success rate has been very good, with only a few replacements among the many new additions.

Quercus blakeyi
Quercus blakeyi

We are grateful to Guy Sternberg as the initial source for many of our uncommon oaks, grown from acorns provided by the small group of oak enthusiasts that would subsequently become the IOS. Subsequent Seed Exchanges at IOS Conferences have made it possible for us to obtain acorns and plants of so many hard-to-find and often very rare oaks from around the world. Special IOS friends and prominent institutions have continued to generously share many very special oaks and acorns with us. They will surely recognize our species with their fingerprints on them and we thank you so much for these wonderful and unique contributions. They have made it possible for us to grow, experiment with, and display so many rare and unusual oaks, which you are welcome to come and see.

Quercus scytophylla
Quercus scytophylla

Below is a list of oaks that have been added in recent years and are not included in the articles linked above:

Quercus agrifolia var. oxyadenia
Q. ajoensis
Q. blakei
Q. coccifera
× cerris
Q. coccifera
subsp. rivasmartinezii
Q. dentata
Q. douglasii
Q. durata
Q. floribunda
Q. frutex
Q. furfuracea
Q. gambelii
×guadalupensis ‘Crimson Cross’
Q. hartwissiana
Q. humboldtii
(froze January 2022 after 2 summers and 1½ winters)
Q. ×humidicola ‘Flat Branch’ 
Q. infectoria subsp. veneris
Q. insignis
Q. intricata
Q. john-tuckeri
Q. leucotrichophora

Q. macranthera
Q. miquihuanensis
×morehus (likely hybrid - acorn received as Q. wislizeni)
Q. pinnativenulosa
×schuettei ‘Silver Shadow’
Q. scytophylla
Q. spinosa
subsp. miyabei
Q. striatula
Q. tarahumara
×turneri ‘Pseudoturneri’
Q. virginiana ‘Grandview Gold’
Q. virginiana (form with very small leaves, povisionally called 'Microphylla'; see photo below)
Q. wutaishanica

Quercus striatula
Quercus striatula
Quercus virginiana small leaf form
Quercus virginiana (or Q. geminata?): a form with very small leaves, found on a remote roadside near the Altamaha River in south Georgia (U.S.)

Photos © Charlotte Wiedenman