The Northern Laurel Oak is a stately deciduous oak tree that is native to the Midwestern and eastern United States. It is very unusual in that it has leaves that are very unlike the leaves of most temperate American oak trees. The leaves are elliptic or oblong, unlobed and with smooth margins. They much more resemble the leaves of a tropical evergreen tree, rather than the lobed leaves of a cold-hardy oak tree. There are southern and southwestern oaks that have smaller, unlobed leaves but none of them match the shingle oak for the large size of its leaves and the lush, luxuriant appearance of its foliage. It is a medium sized deciduous oak of the red oak group that typically grows in a conical form to 40-60’ tall, with the crown broadening and rounding with age. Trunk diameter to 3’. Brownish gray bark develops shallow furrowing and ridging with age. Shingle oak is native primarily from Pennsylvania to Iowa and Arkansas. It is particularly common in the Ohio River Valley. It occurs in a variety of locations including upland dry woods, prairie margins, slopes, ravines, stream margins and bottomlands. Fruits are rounded acorns (to 3/4” long), with scaly cups that extend to approximately 1/3 the acorn length. Acorns are an important source of food for wildlife. Narrow, oblong, smooth-margined, glossy dark green leaves (3-6” long and 1-2” wide) are pale and pubescent beneath. Fall color is variable, sometimes producing attractive shades of yellow-brown to red-brown. Old leaves tend to persist on the tree throughout most of the winter. Wood was once used by early settlers in the midwest for shingles, hence the common name. It is also called the laurel oak for its laurel-like leaves. Shingle oak is considered to be a low-maintenance tree with good pest resistance. A medium shade tree for large lawns or parks. Street tree. Best grown in rich, humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils including dry ones. Hardy in zones 5-8.
Growing Instructions for the Northern Laurel Oak
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. 3. Put the soil in a pot. 4. Sow the seeds 1 inch deep in the soil. 5. Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. 6. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.