Saturday, May 14, 2016

Shumard, A Red Oak With Class

Shumard oaks are always a thrill to see.  They resemble both Northern red and pin oaks in some ways.  The bark of a Shumard has the dark color with gray ski tracks of a Northern red, but the tracks are narrower and have a finer appearance.  The leaves are more round like a pin oak instead of oval like red, but the lobes are filled out more than either of the other species.  The upper lobes on a Shumard leaf will often spread and have many tips.

Shumards prefer to live on creek and river banks, and the foot of river bluffs. (Not out in a bottomland, though.) Northern red oak will often be at the top of the bluff above the Shumards.

Shumards will grow a bit taller than the nearby red oaks, probably because of living on a site with a bit better supply of water late in the growing season.

Shumard acorn caps are a bit smaller in diameter than Northern red, and they are a bit taller, and very slightly domed, where the nearby Northern red caps are flat as a tabletop.  These are details that take a bit of looking to learn.

Neither Northern red or Shumard should ever be confused with a black oak acorn cap, which is highly domed, smaller in diameter, and wearing unattached scale tips.

The darker, coarser bark of upland black oak is rarely confused with either Northern red or Shumard oak....but black oak on a very good site can be confused with a Northern red oak on a very poor site.  Not often, though.  Check those acorn caps for positive I.D. if you are ever unsure.

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