Bur Oak question

texaskittysaJuly 20, 2014

Lost my beloved 50 year old Arizona Ash yesterday morning. The trunk split in half, so now we're going to have to remove the entire tree. We've talked about replacing it with a Bur oak, but have no experience with this tree. Does it have a spreading canopy, or does it grow mainly straight up? I'd rather have wide than tall. Also I've heard they are slow to get established but then after a few years are one of the faster growing oaks. Any opinion on how long it would take to get a 20 - 30 ft tree? Any suggestions for something other than a Bur oak? We have deep alkaline soil and are on the south side of San Antonio. Thanks!

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Burr oak isn't exactly what I would consider "fast" grower.

Try Texas Ash, Shumard Red oak, Mexican White Oak, Montezuma cypress. Pretty good growth rate. My Montezuma cypress went from 20 inches during January 2013 to 9 ft now and still growing. Who knows how tall MCs will be after 10 years. I'm guessing 30 ft minimum.

Check Bald Cypress and Montezuma Cypress trees at Riverwalk downtown San Antonio. Huge!

I'd say 10 years to reach on the low side of 20s FT for Burr Oak.

If you love Arizona Ash, go with Texas Ash which is much more suitable for Texas...

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:05PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

WOW 50 years out of an Arizona ash. That is amazing. They are short lived.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:34PM
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Thanks, Lou! I appreciate the suggestions and will look into them, especially the Texas Ash. I'd like to have a large tree in that spot at least before I retire!

You are right, Wantonamara. 50 years is a long time for an Arizona Ash. It was planted in 1963 by my aunt in honor of my grandfather who had died 2 years earlier. My aunt worked at Fort Sam Houston and the base had planted Arizona Ash trees everywhere. She thought they were so pretty she planted one in the front yard never believing it would grow into the behemoth it was. I thought it was wonderful, hanging giant spider webs and skeletons in it for Halloween and swags of icicle lights at Christmas. We had it trimmed last year but knew we were delaying the inevitable.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 6:16PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Mine was always a weed tree and it started dropping limbs at 20 years.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 6:48PM
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If you go the Red Oak route be sure to get a TEXAS Red Oak and not a Shumard Red Oak. That or make sure it was grown from reds that grow around the area. If your worried about oak wilt then go with a Monterey Oak aka Mexican live oak aka Quercus polymorpha. Its relatively fast growing.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:37PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


Shumard red oak can grow well in central Texas. I can tell the difference between Shumard and Texas red oak but both will grow just fine. Just have to make sure to get Shumard that is adapted to alkaline soil in central Texas. In some places, they just blend together so it's a moot point.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:35AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Might consider pecan if you like the nuts. They become wide stately trees and our neighbor's grew faster than both our Shumard oak and Chinese pistache.

Yes, Arizona ash got a horrible reputation in Houston where commonly used as street trees by developers in the '60s and '70s; so many of their borer infested misshapen limbs rarely made it over 25 feet and most were gone well before 30 years. Sorta something sad about taking a tree out of its native distribution, then dissing it for performing poorly. Nice to hear of survivors that showed how nice a tree they could become.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:25PM
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That's why I said to get a red grown from local acorns.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:18PM
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Lou and Phoenix-great information on red oaks. I appreciate it. They are gorgeous trees and would probably have been my first choice if not for the possibility of oak wilt. I would certainly consider one for the back yard where it isn't so devastating if it succumbs to oak wilt. The one thing that comes to mind is that there are no red oaks in my neighborhood, so commingling of root zones wouldn't be a problem; however, does the insect that spreads oak wilt exist only around oaks, or is its territory non-specific to oaks so that it could be in our area just waiting for a potential victim?

Bostedo-I would love to have a pecan, but am worried about having so tall of a tree so close to the house. I've heard that they are weak-wooded trees and suffer from sudden limb drop. Plus, with it being in the front yard, I'd have every kid in the neighborhood hunting pecans in my yard in the Fall. Just wouldn't want the possibility of one of them getting hurt. I totally agree with your comment regarding the Arizona ash. It's a wonderful tree, just not suited for our area.

These are all great suggestions and I really appreciate everyone's time and expertise. Please let me know if any others come to mind. We'll probably be haunting the nurseries to check out all of your recommendations over the next few weeks while we wait for Fall to plant the new tree. I hate losing my Arizona ash but it has been a worry over the last few years, so it will be nice to have the opportunity to have a quality tree suited to our area with less problems. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:55AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I have a bunch of live oaks that are wild on my land and in the spring when the beetles hatch the leaf clutter and branches are just alive with their buzzing and rustling. This is somewhat amazing, so they are there around the live oaks. I don't know if they are tree specific. Next time I hear it, I will check it out. I have always lived around live oaks. In town, I do not remember this phenomena. My trees are much smaller out here so maybe that has something to do with me perceiving it out here.

I am very careful when I cut on my trees to follow all the rules of when I cut, bleach wash the blade between trees, and cover the wound IMEDIATELY with a real thick coat of wound paint. I use the brush on stuff. I get tired of the spray can getting clogged. I cut once, brush on and then go on to the next cut. My husband will not do this so I try to be the one to do the trimming. He is many things but not a gardener.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:42AM
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Wow, that's amazing that the beetles are that prolific. I wonder if they are drawn to oak trees as a food source or breeding environment or if they are simply opportunistic creatures, feeding on anything they can get.

I don't mind the wound care on oak trees so much as the worry that a branch breaks high up in the tree where I can't get to it with paint to seal it.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:37PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Maybe it is specific to this area. Like I said, this did not happen in town in Austin. I don't know i, but I missed the event this year orit did not happen. Bugs go in cycles. I have had some surreal Oak leaf roller incidents too.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:56PM
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Ditto on the montezuma cypress recommendation. Needs to be planted more in texas. It is a fantastic tree. Fast growing, large, and literally can live 1000 years. And even if it sheds its leaves in the winter it isn't nearly as messy as the 'evergreen' oaks.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 12:10PM
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I'd go with Texas Oak also. I have a Texas Ash, which I loved for years, but the last few years it has put out so many seeds that I spend hours pulling up seedlings, and unlike an oak, the seedlings don't die if they are just cut off at the ground. Also, my Texas Ash has mistletoe. I fought it for years and thought I was winnng, but last year it quadrupled.

I also have a Bur Oak, which I like, and it is pretty straight up as you said, but it is a slow grower and the acorns! Ay yi yi, those acorns.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:45PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

One good thing about Montezuma Cypress is that it is not very weedy compared to others.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:45PM
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