Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

Planting native oak trees helps combat the lack of habitat caused by invasive species in our cities, benefiting local birds and pollinators. Bur oak thrives in most sunny urban locations with a tolerance to salt, air pollutants and drought.

This magnificent shade tree has unique, fringed acorns that attract many birds, including blue jays and woodpeckers. It also supports many pollinators like the banded hairstreak butterfly and polyphemus moth, as well as insect-eating birds such as chickadees, nuthatches and gnatcatchers, plus some migrating warblers such as the stunning magnolia warbler.

Like other members of the white oak family, bur oak is somewhat resistant to the oak wilt fungus and is less likely to become infected should the disease exist nearby.

For best growth, plant bur oak in full sun and slightly moist, loamy soils, although it can grow in part-shade and will adapt to most soils. Plant away from structures and overhead lines as it may live up to 250 years and will eventually grow large. It grows slowly, less than 30 centimetres (one foot) per year to reach a height of 20 meters tall or more. Its slow growth helps form strong, wind-resistant wood, making it resilient during storms and a good wind break on your property.

Bur oaks grow well with a wide range of other trees and shrubs. If you have space, try planting with other trees like basswood or paper birch, or with shrubs like gray dogwood or American hazelnut. If planted alone, try growing with any combination of star-flowered false Solomon’s-seal, hairy Solomon’s seal, wild geranium, zig-zag goldenrod, or foamflower beneath.

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