There are over 600 kinds of oak trees worldwide. Native to the woodlands and scrublands of the Northern Hemisphere, the vast majority become upright, tall trees that require ample space in the landscape to mature to their fullest size and potential. Here are some advantages of having oak trees on your property.
Oak forests are one of the most diverse ecosystems in California. In Napa County, oak forests provide habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species, some of which are endangered or threatened.
Valley oaks are keystone species – species on which many other organisms in the ecosystem depend, so their loss would drastically alter the ecosystem. Valley oaks support around 300 animals, 1,100 plants, 370 fungi and 5,000 insects and invertebrates.
Bears, black-tailed and moose bears, magpies, wood ducks, wild turkeys, quail, quail larvae and oak sparrows depend on the oaks for food. Insects feed on oak leaves, twigs, acorns, bark and wood (which in turn are a food source for other larger animals.) Some animals depend on oaks to protect themselves from predators, while others use the branches, hollows and bark as habitat. Oak trees continue to benefit wildlife after their death. Worms, termites, snails and ants live in decaying trunks and help turn the wood into humus that enriches the soil.
Oak trees, like other trees, absorb carbon as they grow. Large, long-lived trees like oaks convert large amounts of carbon dioxide into the various organic compounds that make up wood. Oak forests therefore help to offset the rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere associated with fossil fuel use. Soil with high organic matter content can also absorb carbon. Soils under oak spruce can sequester larger amounts of carbon, thereby reducing greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Oak canopies also counteract the effects of global warming by lowering surface temperatures. In urban areas, oak trees provide protective shade for houses and people, reducing the energy needed to cool homes.
Water Soil and Air
Trees improve air quality by storing carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen through photosynthesis. Oak leaves absorb air pollutants. It has been observed that a single tree can absorb up to 10 pounds of air pollution in one year and oaks can live up to 400 years.
Oak trees decrease water pollution by absorbing nutrients from fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants in the soil, allowing the compounds to break down slowly and be absorbed as nutrients. During rainy periods, oak canopies trap and slow rainfall. This helps slow the eroding energy of raindrops by intercepting rainwater on leaves and stems surfaces during storms. This process eventually increases the time rain takes to reach the ground and helps reduce potential surface erosion.
Oak trees can be a decoration for the garden. The stately, structured branching architecture of oak trees provides a handsome silhouette in winter, and the often lobed leaves of oak trees are among those that children easily recognize. In autumn, the leaves usually take on a rich golden, orange and reddish-brown color, turning brown before finally dropping to the ground where they slowly decompose. Falling oaks are also an ornamental feature of the oak tree.
Renewable Wood Resource
Prized for its durability, hardness and density, oak is used by carpenters to build beams, furniture and cabinets. All the trees are regenerative, as new seedlings can be planted to replace old fallen trees. These will be ready for future generations to harvest and use for construction.
If you are looking for oak trees, we recommend Nutcracker Nursery & Tree Farm for their wide variety of oaks (over ten). Check them out!