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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

Searching for the Hardy Southern Live Oak

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Anthony S.Aiello and Michael S. Dosmann

Published May 2014 in International Oaks No. 25: 23–34

Abstract

It’s no secret that individual plants within a species can show variation in both morphological and physiological characteristics, winter hardiness being one of the latter. When adding accessions, we want to capture as much variation as possible within a species, so we often collect from multiple populations within a species’ range. This is standard practice for species in our core, or high-priority, collections that are already well adapted to our local arboretum conditions. However, for species that are not typically winter hardy in our climate, we must seek specific provenances that may hold hardier populations. One of those marginally hardy species that has evaded our grasp so far is the southern live oak (Quercus virginiana Mill.). In their combined 260 years of acquiring and testing species from all over the temperate world, the Arnold and Morris Arboreta have made only a handful of attempts to grow Q. virginiana. In fact, the Arnold Arboretum never even tried to cultivate the species. We feel there is potential to grow this species in our collections, or at least make the attempt. For one, our average annual minimum temperatures have risen because of climate change and urban heat island effects. This article recounts our short trip from October 20 to 24, 2012 to collect germplasm from the species’ most northerly natural populations in Virginia.

Keywords

Quercus virginiana Mill., hardiness, Arnold Arboretum, Morris Arboretum

References

Aiello, A.S., and M.S. Dosmann. 2007. The Quest for the Hardy Cedar-of-Lebanon. Arnoldia 65(1): 26-35. 

Cavender-Bares, J. 2007. Chilling and freezing stress in live oaks Quercus section Virentes: intra- and inter-specific variation in  PS II sensitivity corresponds to latitude of origin. Photosynthesis Research 94: 437-453. 

Cavender-Bares, J., A. Gonzalez-Rodriguez, A. Pahlich , K. Koehler, and N. Deacon. 2011. Phylogeography and climatic niche  evolution in live oaks (Quercus series Virentes) from the tropics to the temperate zone. Journal of Biogeography 38: 962-981. 

Clampitt, C.A. 1991. The upland plant communities of Seashore State Park, Virginia Beach, Virgina. Virginia Journal of Science 42: 419-436. 

Flint, H.L. 1997. Landscape Plants for Eastern North America. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 

Hooker, J.D. 1853. The botany of the Antarctic voyage of H.M. discovery ships Erebus and Terror in the Years 1839-1843, under  the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Reeve Brothers. 

Koehler, K., A. Center, and J. Cavender-Bares. 2012. Evidence for a freezing tolerance–growth rate trade-off in the live oaks  (Quercus series Virentes) across the tropical–temperate divide. New Phytologist 193: 730-744. 

Mathes, M.C. 1992. The Planting of a Campus Tradition: A History of the Landscape of the College of William and Mary (revised  edition). Williamsburg, Virginia: College of William and Mary. 

Santamour, F S., Jr. 1960. Western and Southern Oaks in the Michaux Quercetum. Morris Arboretum Bulletin 11(1): 7-10.