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Editor's Picks

Carlos collecting Quercus ×alentejana (Q. faginea × Q. pyrenaica) in northeastern Portugal for his PhD thesis © Carlos Vila-Viçosa
An interview with Portuguese oak conservationist Dr. Carlos...
Amy Byrne | Apr 19, 2024
Roderick Cameron | Apr 13, 2024
Pages from Gert's book
It was a great pleasure for me to be able to write about my...
Gert Fortgens | Feb 15, 2024

Plant Focus

Quercus crassipes acorns with inrolled cupule margin
One of the more well-known Mexican oaks in cultivation.

New US Postage Stamp Features an Oak

A new stamp issued by the United States Post Office in August 2023 depicts an oak, though not in a form that most quercophiles would recognize.

Oak Leaf Surface Stamp
Trichomes and stomata on the surface of a Quercus virginiana leaf

Readers of this blog may recall the image as the photo that won first place in the 2021 Small World Photomicrography Competition sponsored by Nikon (read about it here). The stamp is part of a series entitled "Life Magnified" which "explores life on Earth, as few have ever seen it." The images used were taken using microscopes and highly specialized photographic techniques to capture details undetectable by the human eye. The one that interests us is titled "Oak Leaf Surface" and was taken by Jason Kirk. It shows trichomes (white appendages) and stomata (purple pores) on the surface of the leaf of a southern live oak (Quercus virginiana). The stamp is what in the United States is termed a "forever stamp", which can be used to mail letters indefinitely in the future, no matter the current postage rate or when it was bought. Ties in nicely with oaks' longevity.

This stamp is part of a set depicting "potted miniature plants", issued in 1985. According to the The Postal Universal Website of R.O.C., this one is an oak tree, but it is difficult to determined the species if so.

Another blog entry merits a cross reference: the stamp has been added to the list of Oaks on Postage Stamps, which now includes 104 stamps that feature an oak tree, leaf, or acorn. Other new additions include a stamp issued by Taiwan apparently showing a bonsai oak of indeterminate species, and a Polish stamp that uses the section of the tree trunk of an oak to commemorate 455 years of Polish Post.

A stamp issued in 2013 commemorates 455 years of Polish Post. Designer Agnieszka Sancewicz chose the tree rings on the section of the trunk of an oak tree to symbolize the traditions and longevity of the institution. Also included is the outline of an oak leaf that disturbingly resembles an Eastern North American species (Quercus stellata? Q. macrocarpa?) rather than a species native to Poland. The stamp was voted "Most Beautiful Stamp" at the 44th International Philatelic Art Awards in Asiago (Italy) in 2014.

I'd like to thank my colleague Wei Wang for alerting me about these stamps.