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Plant Focus

A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

It's Hard to Be an Oak in Finland

Birches (Betula sp.) getting ready for the winter.  Leaves are yellow and soon they will fall. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Here in Finland we have short summers and long winters. Our domestic trees can get ready for the winter by stopping growing early enough. But if we try to grow something that has no experience of our winter, can it "learn" to live in new conditions? This question also applies for any other change in conditions, such as drought or moisture. And it is an important question for the future if climate conditions change significantly.

I have seen that Quercus robur, our only native oak, is an amazing survivor.  But how about other Quercus species?  I have no answer for that, but here are some images of my plants.

Quercus robur eaten by rabbits Same Quercus robur with new leaves
Left to right: Quercus prinus, Q. coccinea, and Q. muehlenbergii are still growing at the end of September.  They survived last winter, but now I am worried.  By this time of year our domestic trees have stopped growing a month ago.
Last spring and summer were very cold. This Quercus robur's leaves were frozen in July, but now it has recovered. Quercus palustris from an acorn I planted in 2016 in wet and acid soil. We’ll see how this seedling survives its first winter.

All photos © Tuomo Isokuortti