What kind of tree might replace the Toomer’s Oaks? Let’s ask Dr. Keever

Keever's Keeper? When it's time to talk species, overcup oaks might be on the top of the list to replace the Toomer's Oaks.

If you plant them, they will roll… in 3-5 years (it’s official). But plant what?

According to Auburn horticulture professor Dr. Gary Keever, there haven’t been any formal discussion as to exactly what kind of oaks will replace the live oaks at Toomer’s Corner if / when they die…  just that they won’t be live oaks.

But Keever, the head Toomer’s Oaks health honcho, has his druthers: overcup oaks.

One of the reason’s Keever digs overcups might play into how warmly Auburn fans welcome the new trees.

“Among the commonly grown oak species, the horizontal branching of mature overcup oak is closest to that of live oak,” Keever says.

Overcups would also bring a little biological and aesthetic consistency to campus—the trees along Donahue Dr. (between Samford Ave. and Heisman Dr.) are overcup oaks, too.

But there are plenty of other choices: willow oaks, white oaks, swamp white oaks, nuttall oak, and shumard oaks, all of them much better suited to the Piedmont region (in which much of Auburn is included) than live oaks, which Keever says are more at home in the coastal plains stretching from Virginia to the Florida keys, and west to east Texas.

“Another plus of any of these oak species is that all are deciduous, so potential leaf damage from high-pressure water during  mid-to-late fall coincides with the trees’ recognition of fall’s shortening days and cooler night temperatures and changes in the trees’ physiology leading to natural leaf senescence and dormancy,” Keever says.

“But overcup oak would be high on my list.”

And though he’s quick to point out the decision will most likely be made by committee, if you’re an oak species bidding on the Toomer’s job, Keever’s is the list to be high on.

Graphic via.

Related: On the feasibility of a Toomer’s tree transplant / Wire system being considered as temporary solution for rolling Toomer’s.

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