Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Site Indicator: Blackjack Oak, Quercus marilandica

Blackjack oak tells you that you are on a dry, hot site where growing high value timber is difficult.

Blackjack leaves tend toward a spatula shape with shallow lobes at the outer end.  It is in the red oak group, so there is a whisker at the end of each lobe.  The buds are not as large and well shaped as black oak, but they do the typical bud cluster at the end of the twig like all oaks.

Foresters have historically tried to wipe out blackjacks during timber stand improvement cuts, but you need to realize that if blackjack is growing there, that may be as good as it gets in that particular spot.  I find them on 13A and 13B Bluford high spots, which dry out quickly, and on southwest facing hillsides of 340C3 Zanesville.  Those are not great sites for producing high value timber, but the soil still needs to be protected, and blackjack makes acorns to feed the turkey, deer, and squirrels.  I figure you should accept this tree for what it is and don't waste effort trying to make a site do what it cannot. 

Blackjack bark is a bit darker, with tighter blocks than black oak, and the fissures have a bit of orange showing, much like black oak.

These trees are limby, and the firewood they make is good, but it is a bit hard to split by hand due to the limbiness.  Working amid the dense limbs with a chainsaw can be frustrating, and possibly dangerous when you are making wood.

Move a bit to another site on the hillside and you probably will find the site changes so you can grow your high value tree.  Move toward a draw, or down the slope where you have water movement in the soil, and the site often changes suddenly. 


The Freeholder said...

Sam, I don't get to the folks on my blogroll as often as I'd like to these days--I find retirement is far busier than working life ever was! But I do love dropping by here, because I always learn something new.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting! I have retired, too, and time for sitting at the computer is hard to come by now! No Way could I go back to being a wage slave again. I've been cleaning and sorting brass for reloading, processing firewood, picking up groceries for the Mrs, and last week I took the NRA Range Safety Officer class so I can be more involved at the Carmi Rifle Club. Life is Good!

The Freeholder said...

I'm not going to say I'd never go back to wage slavery again, I was usually a pretty happy slave since I enjoyed my work. But it does look unlikely at this point, so I'm doing like you and getting to all those things I never had time for.

My big thing now is downsizing. We're not going to stay in the big house forever, or at least we probably won't, so I'm starting to sort through things. Some stuff can go now, some stuff "soon" and some when moving time comes. It's an interesting it somewhat stressful process, but at the same time it's enlightening and it lifts weight from you. I've always said you can control your stuff or it can control you, and it seems we can unwittingly very close to the latter.

All things happen for a reason, even unplanned retirements. :-)