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Editor's Picks

Pages from Gert's book
It was a great pleasure for me to be able to write about my...
Gert Fortgens | Feb 15, 2024
Quercus marlipoensis acorns
A new study has analyzed the germination characteristics of...
Website Editor | Feb 15, 2024
Gall on Quercus grahamii
A new species of oak gall wasp has been named in honor of...
Website Editor | Feb 14, 2024

Plant Focus

For this Species Spotlight we train our follow spot on an oak that is quite a star of the quercine scene: Quercus hypoleucoides (stage name...

Is Quercus rugosa Showing Its Roots?

We know that some oaks, particularly Quercus robur, can produce forms with unusually cut leaves. Many of these have been documented in International Oaks and are listed at oaknames.org. We were very surprised, however, to find a very unusual shoot on a tree of Q. rugosa at the Puebla University Botanic Garden in Mexico.

Lobed Quercus rugosa
A lobed leaf on Quercus rugosa at the Botanic Garden of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

This species normally has unlobed but distinctly toothed leaves, but a single shoot was recently found with leaves deeply lobed. It seems to be unstable as later growth produced normal leaves, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on it. What is happening here is not clear. It could be a simple mutation, but as we know that the Mexican oaks, which most often have unlobed or shallowly lobed leaves, derive from ancestors further north where deep lobing is more common, is this tree expressing an ancient and long-hidden gene? What it does seem to show is that the genetic difference between lobed and unlobed leaves in oaks, often an important identification feature, may be very small. The tree is about 25 years old and was grown from seed collected on Cerro El Pinal in Puebla.

Quercus rugosa tree
Later growth on the same shoot produced normal leaves

Allen J. Coombes and Maricela Rodriguez


Photos © Allen J. Coombes