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Plant Focus

First described by the Japanese botanist Bunzō Hayata in 1913, Quercus hypophaea is a medium to large evergreen oak restricted to the...

Species Spotlight: Quercus georgiana M.A. Curtis

Georgia oak is known from 15 counties in Georgia and possibly small pockets in Alabama, with an unverified report in North Carolina. One of these locations is Stone Mountain, just northeast of Atlanta, GA. The base of Stone Mountain stands at 1,000 ft in elevation rising to over 1,600 ft at the summit.

Taking the foot trail leading up the east side of the mountain, the flora at the bottom includes species such as Callicarpa americana L., Vaccinium arboreum Marshall, Quercus nigra L., and Pinus virginiana Mill. Nearing 1,100 ft in elevation, dense stands of Pinus taeda L. emerge along with Q. marilandica Münchh. and Rhus copallinum L. A little further up the side of the mountain (nearing 1,200 ft) are a few Q. georgiana and putative

Quercus georgiana

hybrids between Q. nigra and Q. georgiana, along with Diospyros virginiana L., Vitis rotundifolia Michx., and Andropogon virginicus L. Around 1,300 ft are stands of pure Q. georgiana and several Q. montana Willd. Many of the Georgia oaks on Stone Mountain are no larger than 3 ft tall, but a few are nearly 20 ft in height with a stem diameter of 6 in. Approaching the peak, the plant communities begin to divide into small pockets along the sides of the trail and the landscape eventually turns to pure granite. Q. georgiana found on Stone Mountain survive in small fissures in the solid granite which slowly fills with bits of granite, and broken-down leaf litter. Elsewhere, they are found on granite flat rock ridges on the Piedmont Plateau.

Georgia oaks are beautiful, small trees with wonderful fall color, ranging from bright reds to vibrant yellows.

Quercus georgiana shrub.

Q. georgiana is surprisingly hardy beyond its native range, growing well into USDA zone 5. Georgia oak from other sites may form an upright tree with a single leader and grow to 30 ft tall.[i] Obtaining acorns or seedlings from this species may prove difficult, but if given the opportunity, it is a species deserving of a place in your collection.



You can view more photos of Q. georginana on Stone Mountain in a photo gallery here.

[i] Some believe this habit is due to introgression from other species.