Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: What is this tree? The leaves are changing color now. I have only one of these on my property.

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Turkey Oak

Turkey Oak

A:   Thanks for bringing in a sample for me.  Right now this tree, Turkey oak, Quercus laevis, is showing us rusty, brown colors.  Quercus is the Latin name for “oak,” and laevis comes from the Latin word meaning “smooth, slippery, or polished,” which refers to the tree’s nearly hairless leaves. Turkey oak, or turkey-foot oak, received its common name from the shape of its leaves, which resemble a turkey’s foot. These trees can be found from Virginia, south to central Florida, and west to southeastern Louisiana. Turkey oak is also known as scrub oak—referring to the habitat where the species is commonly located.  Turkey oaks provide food for wildlife such as the black bear, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey.  This tree has a high resistance to wind and is also drought tolerant. Turkey oak trees grow to about 40 feet but can reach heights of 70 feet. They are often found growing in high bluff areas so here in Nassau County, Florida we can find them in Hilliard and Yulee. Turkey oaks have been known to produce large amounts of pollen in the spring which can cause problems for people with allergies. The tree’s wood has been used for lumber and general construction, but is commonly used for fuel wood, barbecuing, and farm construction.


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