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Plant Focus

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Dwarf cultivars can be ideal for a small garden. Here are three "mini oaks". 

Cultivar Close-up: Thread and Lace

Quercus petraea 'Laciniata Crispa' © Jan De Langhe (click on image to enlarge)

As Co-Registrar of oak cultivars I think it’s important to periodically remind members about some of the exceptional selections of oaks that are out there in collections and nurseries. In the interest of appealing to a broader group, I thought I would select a cultivar from the Old World and one from the New.

The first selection is an old one but well known among collectors. Quercus petraea ‘Laciniata Crispa’ was published in 1928 in the H.A. Hesse Nursery Catalog. It was selected in the 1920s in Germany. This plant was selected for its fascinating, unusual foliage. A portion of the foliage comes nearly true to species, and then 

Quercus alba 'Gatton Grave'

there are leaves that are little more than thread, with the rest in between. This selection is not commonly found in nurseries, but a select few still offer it in Europe, even fewer in the U.S. Although it is rare in cultivation and a bit slow growing, it is certainly a conversation piece in any collection.

The second cultivar is a terrific newer selection by Guy Sternberg of Starhill Forest Arboretum. Q. alba ‘Gatton Grave’ was found in the early 2000s in Walnut Ridge Cemetery, in Cass County, Illinois. It was published by Eike Jablonski in the German Dendrological Society‘s Beiträge zur Gehölzkunde in 2007. The tree is growing near the grave marker for a Mr. Gatton, and hence its name. The leaves on this cultivar have very deep sinuses and create a lacy effect. Unlike some white oak cultivars, ‘Gatton Grave’ has proven itself to be quite amenable to propagation. It is in limited production in the U.S. and in Europe.

Many more excellent oak selections exist and it’s a shame more nurseries do not produce these amazing trees. If you think you have the next fantastic oak that needs to be shared with the world, send Eike Jablonski (eike.jablonski@education.lu) or myself (russellry76@yahoo.com) an email and we would be glad to help direct you.

Quercus petraea 'Laciniata Crispa' proving to be a conversation piece in the collection of Dendrologická zahrada Průhonice, when the IOS visited as part of the Czech Republic Oak Open Days in 2017. Guy Sternberg with ortet tree of Quercus alba 'Gatton Grave' in Walnut Ridge Cemetery, Cass County, Illinois.