Cultivar Close-up: Quercus ×bebbiana 'Taco'

Ortet tree of Quercus ×bebbiana ‘Taco’ in Springfield, Illinois
Photo: © Guy Sternberg

Found in the late 1980s by Guy Sternberg in Springfield, Illinois, this selection was noted early on for its rapid growth rate and strong central leader. The rights to the tree were purchased by Sternberg from the landowner in June 1991. The parent plant is a spontaneous seedling that popped up in a narrow space between a paved parking lot (of a Taco Bell restaurant – hence the cultivar name) and a steep retention wall. Despite a tremendously restricted root zone, this tree has consistently put on a meter or more of growth each year. Leaves, caps, and acorns favor the Q. alba parent but ‘Taco’ shows characteristics of each parent in its makeup and its progeny. Fall color is generally tan-yellow in most years and not spectacular, but the tree’s resilience under adverse conditions is the reason it was selected. This cultivar was registered in 2008, and an F2 seedling (‘Taco II’) has been selected for its red fall color and is currently under evaluation. This plant was initially offered in Europe via Pavia Nurseries, but is now available in the US as well from Forrest Keeling Nursery and their online retail branch G2Gardens.

Leaves on a Quercus ×bebbiana ‘Taco’ - Photos: © Ryan Russell