Oak Species that are Wilt Resistant

Mark Peterson

The very best way to limit oak wilt is selecting and planting the best oak species for our region that are resistant to this deadly disease.

Many of you have heard about the dangers of oak wilt, which has killed hundreds of thousands of oaks over the past 50 years. Certain areas of the original “oak wilt triangle” — Bandera, Kerrville and Comfort — have lost more than 50 percent of the forest canopy.

A large-growing oak for clay soils. Known for its gigantic acorns.

Favorite Oaks for San Antonio

Personally, I’ve never lost sleep over oak wilt because it’s so easy to prevent. Never prune in the spring or fall and always paint the cuts. Education can and has greatly reduced the spread of the disease. But the very best way to limit oak wilt is the continued planting of the best species for our region that are also resistant to oak wilt.

Always let nature be your guide when choosing oaks to prevent oak wilt. Choose oaks based on the type of soil you have and plant them according to the best location for each species.

 

Texas is part of an oak forest associations that stretches from Texarkana to the Pacific coast. There are a number of species within this association and some have distinct implications for South Central Texas communities.

All oaks belong to three sub-families: red, white and live (aka willow).

  • Members of the Red Oak sub-family are the most susceptible to oak wilt. These include Texas red oak, blackjack oak, Shumard oak and water oak.
  • Members of the White Oak sub-family are the most resistant to oak wilt. These include bur, post, Chinquapin, Lacey, shin and Monterrey.
  • Members of the willow oak family include live, escarpment and coastal, willow and pin, and fall somewhere in-between.

So, allow me to give you some landscape and design tips. In areas of thin soil, chinquapin, Lacey and shin oak are your best choices. In deep loam and clay soils, bur oak is definitely the primo species. For the opposite spectrum of sandy soils,post oak is the correct choice. Monterrey and live oaks can be grown anywhere.

Although some earnest, but misguided folks desire a ban on all members of the Red Oak family, the number of red oaks that become infected is extremely small and the critical factor for infection is a fresh wound, which has nothing to with species. However, always be careful of the Shumard oak for other reasons – some may grow here, others may not. In this case, my advice is to go with Texas red oak.

To diminish the possibility of oak wilt in your neighborhood, always paint fresh tree wounds and plant those “No Oak Wilt” oak species. My top three are chinkapin aka chinquapin, bur and Monterrey.

And, visit Garden Style San Antonio to learn more about each species.

 

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