|The New Madrid (Missouri) strain offers stunning maroon tones on its new flushes of growth. Image from HERE|
I transplanted three Nuttall Oak seedings before I got rained out. It seems like a very small thing to blog about. But I guess that I would be doing well if I successfully transplanted three trees a day. It won't seem like a small thing in twenty years.
|Image from Wikipedia|
Botany has been afflicted with lumpers-and-splitters. So far the splitters are winning.
The lumpers want to disregard minor shape differences and have fewer species. Splitters (who have the honor of naming newly found species) want to use small differences as the basis for defining new species. A splitter would add 184 new species of canines were he to go to a dog show.
To my way of thinking, Nuttall Oak is one of a vast swarm of "Red" oaks. Oaks are a promiscuous lot and interbreed with abandon. Dan Morrical, a livestock extension specialist from Iowa, once told me that one of the beauty of interbreeding (or outbreeding) is that it shows the greatest effect on those traits that have the lowest "heritability". Specifically, outbreeding is a solid way to get that tough-to-define characteristic called "livability". High growth rate is important...but the animal has to live long enough to walk onto the trailer before you get paid by the auctioneer. And then that animal has to thrive on the feedlot if you hope for repeat customers. Sissies need not apply.
In plants, "livability" often comes down to "plasticity", the ability to adapt to or recover from environmental stresses like high pH soil, acid rain, browsing by animals, recovery from winter damage, flooding...... Trees do not have the luxury of changing their address. A heterogeneous swarm of seedlings are likely to have plasticity within each individual as well as a wide range of preferences within the population. Somehow, the right size and shape of peg will show up to fit any given hole.
The ERJ property is a mess of oak species and hybrids. Purists are horrified. The deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, blue jays, raccoon, woodpeckers......have yet to register a complaint.