BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS:
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K112 Southern mixed forest
K116 Subtropical pine forest
SAF COVER TYPES:
69 Sand pine
71 Longleaf pine-scrub oak
72 Southern scrub oak
111 South Florida slash pine
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:
810 Longleaf pine-turkey oak hills
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Turkey oak grows in pure stands, in isolated pockets, and as a subcanopy
within longleaf pine forests. The two most common overstory associates
in turkey oak forests are sand post oak (Quercus stellata var.
margaretta) and bluejack oak (Q. marilandica). Other
associated overstory species include southern red oak (Q. rubra),
laurel oak (Q. laurifolia), sand hickory (Carya pallida),
mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), and black cherry
(Prunus serotina) . Also see SAF cover types.
Understory associates include myrtle oak (Q. myrtifolia),
Chapman oak (Q. chapmanii), sand live oak (Q. virginiana
var. geminata), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), persimmon
(Diospyros virginiana), pawpaw (Asimina spp.), Vaccinium spp.,
New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), gopher-apple
(Geobalanus oblongifolius), blackberry (Rubus spp.), crooked
wood (Lyonia spp.), scrub hickory (Carya floridana), poison-sumac
(Toxicodendron vernix), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) .
Groundcover includes pineland threeawn or wiregrass (Aristida stricta),
bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), Heterotheca spp., and legumes .
Because turkey oak is drought resistant, it becomes dominant
on the driest, most infertile sandhill sites. Published
classifications listing turkey oak as dominant in community
types (cts) are presented below:
Area Classification Authority
se US general veg. cts Christensen 1988 
nc FL general forest cts Monk 1968 
SC veg. cts Nelson 1986 
se US general forest cts Waggoner 1975 
SPECIES: Quercus laevis
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE:
Turkey oak is too small on average to be commercially important, but its
hard wood is excellent fuel .
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Because of their palatability, digestibility, and seasonal abundance,
acorns of turkey oak are a major food source for mammals and birds,
including black bear, white-tailed deer, fox squirrel, scrub jay,
northern bobwhite, and wild turkey [11,16,32]. Besides acorns, mature
turkey oak stands have little to offer in way of forage because
undergrowth is sparse . Turkey oak acorns are not as important to
wildlife if associated evergreen scrub oaks such as sand live oak (Q.
virginiana var. germinata), myrtle oak (Q. myrtifolia), and Chapman oak
(Q. chapmanii) are present .
Acorns of most oak species are palatable. Acorns of trees in the
black oak subgenus, such as turkey oak, are usually bitter and
less palatable than those of the white acorn subgenus .
Oak acorns are generally low in protein, phosphorus, nitrogen, and fiber
but high in crude fat. Because acorns in the black oak subgenus have
more crude fat, they provide more digestible energy than those in the
white oak subgenus .
Turkey oak provides cover and shelter for wildlife. Fox squirrels nest
in turkey oak and use the leaves for nests . Scrub jays, however,
prefer the associated evergreen scrub oaks over turkey oak for nesting
. Turkey oak-dominated sandhills are good habitat for numerous
reptiles and amphibians .
OTHER USES AND VALUES:
Turkey oak bark and twigs contain substances used for tanning
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
To establish pine on sandhill sites, turkey oak should be removed
because it competes with young pine for moisture and nutrients
[11,31,37]. The undercutter method (in which the oak stems are severed
beneath the ground surface) is the most effective eradication method.
However, partial eradication by furrowing does not disturb the soil as
much as undercutting. Basal and stump sprays, using 2,4,5-T, also
control turkey oak . The best time to eradicate turkey oak is late
April to early May because carbohydrate root reserves are lowest when
new leaves reach their full size . Turkey oak removed by mechanical
chopping on a Florida sandhill site did not recover for at least 4 years
The removal of turkey oak to plant pine results in a pronounced
reduction in food for wildlife. If the goal is to reproduce a longleaf
pine community for wildlife habitat as well as timber production, some
turkey oak should be left. If the best acorn producers are left in the
stand, a well-stocked, mature stand of turkey oak can be thinned by 50
percent without affecting acorn production [11,21].
In north-central South Carolina, turkey oak is susceptible to oak wilt
(Ceratocystis fagacearum), and in central Florida, curculionid weevils
(Curculio spp.) attack turkey oak acorns .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Quercus laevis
Turkey oak is a small- to medium-sized, moderately fast-growing,
short-lived, deciduous tree. The much-dissected leaves are variable in
size and shape, and have a phototropic vertical orientation to reduce
moisture loss. Turkey oak develops an extensive lateral root system
with age. Turkey oak at maturity ranges from 20 to 50 feet (6-15 m) in
height but can be larger on good sites . The largest turkey oak in
Florida is 82 feet (25 m) tall and 26 inches (66 cm) in d.b.h. If
disturbed, turkey oak can be small, stunted, and gnarled . The
relatively thick, blackish bark has deep furrows and rough blocky ridges
. The fruit, a medium-sized nut, averages 0.3 cubic inch (4.8 cu cm)
in volume .
Seed production and dissemination: Turkey oak is monoecious. Acorns
are produced every year. Average annual acorn production for open-grown
trees 5 inches (13 cm) in d.b.h. and larger is 0.4 to 1.2 pounds
(0.18-0.54 kg) per tree. The heavy acorns fall in autumn and do not
roll far from their source. Small mammals do not disperse acorns far,
and most of these acorns are eaten . Scrub jays, and possibly other
birds, disperse acorns .
Germination and seedling establishment: Germination capacity is high,
but the moisture content of the acorns must not drop below 20 to 30
percent for germination to occur . Litter protects the acorn from
extreme temperatures. Turkey oak acorns require a 60 to 90 day cold
stratification period. Hypogeal germination occurs very early in the
spring. Consequently, seedlings become well established before the hot
weather commences .
Although roots are generally deep and extensive, a thick mat of fibrous
turkey oak roots were concentrated in the top 4 to 5 inches (10-13 cm)
of soil in a xeric Florida sandhill .
Vegetative reproduction: Turkey oak sprouts vigorously from the root
crown when top-killed .
Turkey oak grows on xeric sandhills up to 500 feet (150 m) in elevation
. The droughty sands are classified as typic Quartzipsamments of the
Entisol soil order. These soils are strongly acidic, excessively to
well drained, and low in organic matter [11,22]. In Florida, turkey oak
is common on the sandy uplands, and in Georgia and the Carolinas, it is
common near the coast . Turkey oak is intolerant of salt spray; the
first inland appearance of turkey oak is just beyond the maritime forest
Turkey oak is shade intolerant . It has become dominant in former
longleaf pine sites which were logged. On xeric sandhill sites, turkey
oak will replace longleaf pine in the absence of frequent fire [11,22],
and it will replace evergreen scrub forests if they are burned .
The turkey oak sandhill community is a stable fire-maintained disclimax
[7,17]. In the absence of fire, turkey oak matures, the canopy closes,
and shade tolerant species become established. Evergreen scrub oak or
southern mixed hardwood forests will replace turkey oak forests .
If fire is too frequent, young turkey oak will be suppressed and
replaced by longleaf pine and wiregrass .
Flowers appear in April. The fruit takes 2 years to mature and falls in
autumn. Germination takes place in very early spring .
SPECIES: Quercus laevis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Large, mature turkey oaks have relatively thick bark and can survive
low-severity fire. If top-killed, turkey oak sprouts vigorously from
the root collar. Historically, natural fire occurred at 3- to 4-year
intervals in sandhill vegetation . Frequent low-severity fire keeps
turkey oaks small, stunted, and widely scattered .
Fire influences the spatial pattern of turkey oak. Repeated fires
result in segregation between longleaf pine and turkey oak . Fire
fueled by longleaf pine litter is hotter than fire fueled by turkey oak
litter . In addition, fallen pine needles lodge in the foliage of
subcanopy turkey oak. Turkey oak stands growing with longleaf pine,
where fires are frequent and carry well, are often young and even-aged.
Turkey oak stands isolated from pines, where fires are less frequent,
are uneven-aged .
Turkey oak is protected from fire near groves of sand live oak, which
act as natural fire breaks. The litter of sand live oak is moist and
incombustible, and the dense grove inhibits wiregrass growth .
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:
Tree with adventitious bud/root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
SPECIES: Quercus laevis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Small turkey oaks are top-killed by low-severity fire . Turkey oak
is more likely to suffer crown mortality in the vicinity of a longleaf
pine. In two late spring fires in Florida, turkey oak crown survival
was positively related to the d.b.h. of the turkey oak and to the
distance from the nearest longleaf pine. Crown survival was inversely
related to the d.b.h. of the nearest pine. Turkey oaks less than 1 inch
(2.5 cm) in d.b.h. were very sensitive to the proximity of longleaf pine
which had up to a 33 foot (10 m) radius of influence on these small
oaks. Turkey oaks smaller than 2.2 inches (5.5 cm) in d.b.h. had high
crown mortality, but low tree mortality .
Turkey oak survival was higher near groves of sand live oak .
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
If turkey oak is top-killed, it sprouts vigorously from the root collar.
Turkey oaks can recover easily from repeated top-kill because sprouting
individuals may have more than 85 percent of their biomass underground.
If the crown is killed immediately, the root collar sprouts more
vigorously than if the crown dies slowly. A slowly dying crown retains
apical dominance, which suppresses sprouting and uses up root reserves
Small oaks sprout more vigorously than large oaks. Turkey oaks of an
intermediate size [3.1 to 3.9 inches (8-10 cm) in d.b.h.] had the lowest
survival after a spring fire in Florida because they were too small to
be immune from crown mortality, but too large to be vigorous sprouters
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Prescribed burning to eradicate turkey oak is ineffective. Generally,
there is inadequate fuel to carry the fire, and vigorous sprouting after
fire will increase rather than decrease the number of oak stems .
Prescribed burning at 5-year intervals maintains a longleaf pine-turkey
oak pyrophytic sandhill community .
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