Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Mighty Oklahoma Blackjack Tree

Oklahomans may take it for granted but the "Blackjack Oak" is a member of the Red Oak family which thrives exclusively along a unique belt of forest called The "Cross Timbers" region spreading from north-central Texas throughout the eastern half of Oklahoma and into southeastern Kansas.

The term Cross Timbers is used to describe a fairly narrow strip of land in the United States that runs from southeastern Kansas across Central Oklahoma to Central Texas.[1] Made up of a mix of prairie, savanna, and woodland,[2][3] it forms part of the boundary between the more heavily forested eastern part of the country and the almost treeless Great Plains,[2][3][4] and also marks the western habitat limit of many mammals and insects.[2]

No major metropolitan areas lie wholly within the Cross Timbers, although roughly the western half of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex does, including the cities of Fort Worth, Denton, Arlington, and Weatherford.[3] The western suburbs of the Tulsa metropolitan area and the northeastern suburbs of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area also lie within this area.[2] The main highways that cross the region are I-35 and I-35W going north to south (although they tend to skirt the Cross Timbers' eastern fringe south of Fort Worth) and I-40 going east to west. Numerous U.S. Highways also cross the area.[2][3]

Blackjack Oak
Quercus marilandica

Click to Enlarge
Characteristics: Blackjack oak is a medium-sized, deciduous, native tree that can reach a height of sixty feet. It is one of the most common oaks in Oklahoma and one of the dominant Quercus species in the cross timbers region of Oklahoma and Texas. It is an upland oak, most common on sandy soils.

Area of Importance: Most of Oklahoma and Texas, except the panhandles and far western Texas.

Attributes: Deer, quail, turkey, squirrel, raccoon, and other wildlife eat blackjack oak mast (acorns). The tree also provides cover for many wildlife species.

I.D. Tip: Blackjack oak belongs to a group classified as red oaks because its leaf veins continue through the margin (edge) of the leaf and create small, needlelike extensions. This oak, like other species in the group, produces acorns on the previous years' branch growth. It can be identified from a distance by its black bark and has a tendency to retain very tough, dead lower branches that form a drooping canopy. Blackjack oak leaves are usually triangular and are broadest near the tip.

"Cross Timbers Premium Blackjack-Oak Firewood is one of the cleanest burning and most desirable hardwood fuels for home heating and professional cooking."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:40 AM  

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