February 2003
Plant of the Month
Oak Hybrids
zone: 4
by John Daniels

Oak Hybrids

With the relatively recent increased interest in planting native species has come an increased or renewed interest in the various Oak species which are available and dependable in our area. While the standard species including red, bicolor, burr, and swamp white oak have been very dependable and available, some new introductions have come our way which warrant attention.

A number of new hybrid oak selections show great promise for our area. These hybrids have unique characteristics which may work very well in a number of situations. Three hybrid oaks which have recently become available in our area are described below.

Crimson Spire™ Oak
Quercus alba x Q. robur ‘Crimschmidt’

Crimson Spire was introduced by Willet Wandell and was patented and released by J Frank Schmidt and Son Co. in 1994.
Crimson Spire is a columnar, tightly fastigiate hybrid of English and White Oak that combines good characteristics of both parents. Dark green to bluish green mildew resistant foliage and reddish fall color is inherited from the White Oak parentage. The fastigiate growth habit is inherited from the English Oak parentage. This columnar, tightly fastigiate tree grows to a height of about 45 feet and spread of 15 feet.
We have grown Crimson Spire in our nursery for five years. While the tree is rated as Zone 5 in the literature, it has performed very well in tests here in Minnesota. Of the three hybrids discussed here, Crimson Spire is the one variety which, in addition to a columnar habit, shows an very nice red fall color.
Quercus robur x Quercus macrocarpa 'Clemons'

Heritage ® oak was developed and patented by Earl Cully of Heritage Trees, Inc. This tree was selected from a row of F2 hybrid seedlings for its' outstanding vigor and superior form. Heritage ® oak maintains a central leader to the top and develops a dense, uniform pyramidal crown. The tree has grown to 40 ft tall with equal spread in 24 years. As the tree ages, it will develop a broad rounded crown. Like other burr oak hybrids, it has tough, dark green tatter-resistant foliage. Fall color is yellow. It is highly resistant to powdery mildew. Heritage has performed well in temperatures to minus 30 F. Heritage ® oak is adaptable to a variety of soils and is highly resistant to powdery mildew. It can be used almost anywhere a large specimen shade tree is needed.

Quercus robur fastigiata x Quercus bicolor 'Long' cultivar

Regal Prince® oak was also developed and patented by Early Cully of Heritage Trees, Inc. Intermediate in form between its' parents, this vigorous growing tree develops a strong, upright oval silhouette similar to 'Bowhall' red maple. It has bold, dark green, somewhat glossy foliage with highly ornamental under surfaces, similar to its' staminate parent. It is highly resistant to powdery mildew and borers. Regal Prince® has proven to be very winter-hardy and has held up well in wind and ice during the twenty-plus years it has been under test. This tree has grown to 35 ft tall and 13.5 ft wide in 24 years. Like Heritage ®, Regal Prince® also performs well in a variety of soil types and nicely fills a landscape where a narrow, oval form is desired.

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