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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 

The Burke Oak Collection at The New York Botanical Garden

The Coleman and Susan Burke Oak Collection at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) features more than 150 oaks representing 44 taxa. The oaks are planted across 5 undulating acres along the eastern edge of the Garden’s 250-acre National Historic Landmark landscape. The Burke Oak Collection was one of the first living plant collections established at NYBG and is home to some of the Garden’s oldest accessioned trees, including Quercus bicolor (swamp white oaks) grown from seed collected in Staten Island in 1896 by NYBG’s founding director, Nathaniel Britton.

Burke Oaks Landscape
A view of the Burke Oak Collection at The New York Botanical Garden

The historic Oak Collection was recently revitalized thanks to the generosity of NYBG trustee Susan Burke and her late husband Coleman Burke, who loved oaks. New accessible pathways and gathering areas guide visitors through the site and provide them with places to rest and admire the beauty of the mature and newly planted oaks that grace the landscape. New interpretive signs describe the biology, ecology, and cultural and economic importance of oaks.

Burke Oak Collection under construction
New features under construction in the Burke Oak Collection

NYBG curators sourced more than two dozen new oaks for planting in the collection prior to its dedication in October 2022. These new oaks include a mix of fastigiate cultivars well-adapted for planting in an urban environment, taxa intended to test cold hardiness including Q. ×comptoniae and Q. hemisphaerica ‘QHMTF’ (AvalynTM), and a mix of oak species from North America, Europe, and Asia. These new plants complement the historic oaks in the collection and other recent additions such as Q. baronii, Q. pagoda, and Q. variabilis. Going forward, curators will continue to source both cultivars and botanical taxa to add to the collection to test hardiness and demonstrate the remarkable diversity—and beauty—of oaks.

Burke Oak Collection Overlook
One of two new overlooks at the Burke Oak Collection, constructed from stone quarried in the Catskill Mountains of New York

While the Burke Oak Collection introduces visitors to Quercus from across the North Temperate Zone, native oaks are a defining feature of the rest of NYBG’s historic landscape. Britton decreed that the native trees on the Garden’s site should be preserved during the initial construction of NYBG’s roads and buildings in the late 1800s. Modern visitors are the beneficiaries of his wisdom. Seven oak species (Q. alba, Q. bicolor, Q.coccinea, Q. montana, Q. palustris, Q. rubra, and Q. velutina) are native to the Garden and today thousands of oaks, including hundreds that sprouted before NYBG was founded in 1891, some of which are approaching 300 years old, grow in the 50-acre Thain Family Forest and across the landscape.

Quercus xcomptoniae
A recently planted Quercus ×comptoniae

These are the oak taxa growing in the Burke Oak Collection (December 2022): 

Quercus alba
Quercus aliena
Quercus baronii
Quercus bicolor
Quercus bicolor ‘
JFS-KW12’ (American Dream®)
Quercus bicolor ‘Bonnie and Mike’ (BeaconTM)
Quercus ×bimundorum ‘Crimschmidt’ (Crimson SpireTM)
Quercus ×bimundorum ‘JFS-KW2QX’ (Skinny GenesTM)
Quercus cerris
Quercus coccinea
Quercus dentata
Quercus glandulifera
Quercus hemisphaerica
‘QHMTF’ (AvalynTM)
Quercus imbricaria
Quercus lyrata

Quercus ×macdanielii
Quercus macrocarpa
Quercus marilandica
Quercus michauxii
Quercus mongolica
Quercus montana
Quercus muehlenbergii
Quercus nigra
Quercus pagoda
Quercus palustris
Quercus phellos
Quercus prinoides
Quercus robur
Quercus robur
Fastigiata Group
Quercus robur (Fastigiata Group) (Skyrocket®)
Quercus rubra
Quercus serrata

Quercus stellata
Quercus texana
Quercus texana 
(Red Flush Group) ‘Betterred’ (Ruby Spring®)
Quercus variabilis
Quercus velutina
Quercus wutaishanica

Quercus baronii
Quercus baronii, grown from seed collected in Gansu, China in 2005 by the North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium


Photos © The New York Botanical Garden