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.
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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What ever oak or other tree type is planted there needs to be one that will sprawl horizontally and not just grow straight and tall. Part of the Toomer’s oaks beauty, and all mature live oaks for that matter, is their sprawling wide and majestic canopy that stays low to the ground at the bottom and provide lots of shade. There just aren’t many other oaks that I know of that will grow in a similar manner and be as suitable for rolling as live oaks, but I am not a horticulturalist . To me when you see an old live oak it just says southern and historic. Maybe that is why the Toomer’s oaks fit so well at the entrance to Auburn University.
I dunno, that looks like the Charles Barkley of foliage. It would definitely have to drop its leaves to not reject the rolling.
Thanks again, Harvey.
RT Atlanta says
Auburn Elvis says
Couldn’t school breed some new hybrid species and name it something like “Victory Oak” or “Iron Oak?”
Quercus victoriam or Quercus ferrum have a nice ring to them.
Any discussion on what the University will do with the current trees if they die? We must preserve them. Maybe craft everlasting monuments from their wood?
Dr Beth AU says
I don’t see what’s wrong with sticking to Live Oaks.
T. C. Nomel says
War. Damn. Overcups.
el chupacabra says
Dr Beth – Auburn is not in the native range of the live oak, so for starters the live oaks in Auburn in the best locations are already under added stress that would only be compounded at that high traffic location and with constant rollings and pressure washings. That said, the primary reason we should plant something else is that Auburn is a Land Grant Extension University, and there is something fundamentally wrong when every Extension agent in the State of AL is preaching proper planting of appropriate native species while the campus is doing the exact opposite.
Why not a hardier live oak species that can withstand colder temperatures? A Plateau oak (quercus fusiformis) can withstand pretty cold temperatures. It does prefer drier conditions, so Auburn may be to wet for its tastes.
I just can’t get used to the thought of a deciduous tree at Toomer’s. I understand the cost savings, but the Toomer’s oaks still having leaves in the dead of winter was part of their charm.
AubieNC makes a great suggestion, in my opinion. Check out some info on the Plateau Oak here, http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=QUFU.
Being from the gulf coast, I just love the look of live oaks and similar trees. Auburn deserves something that is far more beautiful and picturesque than your average native oak tree. Auburn is the shining beacon in a state full of trailer trash redneck bammers and the Toomer’s trees are and should be a shining beacon and a landmark in a forest of regular and common ordinary trees.
The Toomer’s trees, whatever they end up planting there, should be what other trees wish they could be. Much like how little kids playing football in the back yard wish they were Bo or Cam.
This tree in the picture linked below is an overcup on the North side of Comer Hall. It looks better than any live oak on campus, because it is healthier than any live oak on campus. Also, trees need healthy leaves in order to photosynthesize; pressure washing is not good for said leaves. So unless you are willing to show up after every rolling and hand clean the trees, maybe we should go for a species that is adapted to and can thrive in that environment.
@el_chupacabra… As a wildlife student back is the late 80″s, I spent many hours attending classes in Funchess Hall. I became quite familiar with this very tree in the photo. I actually gathered and sprouted some seeds and planted them on my property near Chewacla State Park. They are now about 30-35 feet tall and I am very proud of them. The late Dr. John Freeman, who taught sysymatic botany at the time, suggested that this tree might possibly be hybridized with some other Quercus species. He told me at the time that many of the oaks on campus were probably crosses,especially if they were seedlings. I don’t know if that is the case with the one by Comer Hall or not. However, I do know that my seedlings from that exact tree are growing with all the characteristics of an Overcup oak.