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Plant Focus

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

Quercus oglethorpensis W.H. Duncan: Ex-Situ Conservation Through Collaborative Cultivation

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Matthew Lobdell

Published May 2017 in International Oaks No. 28: 41–48


Quercus oglethorpensis Duncan (Oglethorpe oak) is an endangered species native to the Southeastern United States. The sparse distribution covers a linear distance of ca. 950 km, including several disjunct populations potentially harboring unique genetic diversity or adaptive variation. Traditional techniques such as seed banking are insufficient for ex-situ conservation of Q. oglethorpensis due to the recalcitrant nature of the seeds. However, the species has been demonstrated as suitable for cultivation in a wide range of the United States and Europe, and can be conserved ex situ in the living collections of arboreta and botanical gardens.

In 2015, through a joint venture between the US Forest Service and American Public Gardens Association, seed and/or samples of scion wood were collected from populations of the species in Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina. Following propagation at The Morton Arboretum (Lisle, Illinois), they were distributed to five additional arboreta and botanical gardens throughout the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Through cultivation in collections of these arboreta and botanical gardens, genetically diverse and representative germplasm of Quercus oglethorpensis will be preserved and potentially utilized in future reintroduction efforts.


Quercus oglethorpensis, Oglethorpe oak, ex-situ conservation, endangered species, plant collections


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