Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Q. laurifolia.
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H. 1992. Quercus hemisphaerica, Q. laurifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : QUESPP1 QUEHEM QUELAU SYNONYMS : For Quercus hemisphaerica: Quercus hemisphaerica var. hemisphaerica Quercus hemisphaerica var. maritima (Michx.) C.H. Mull. Quercus laurifolia subsp. maritima (Michx.) E. Murray Quercus laurifolia var. maritima (Michx.) E. Murray Quercus phellos L. var. maritima Michx. Quercus maritima (Michx.) Willd. [50] For Quercus laurifolia: Quercus laurifolia var. obtusa Willd. Quercus obtusa (Willd.) Ashe Quercus phellos L. var. laurifolia (Michx.) Chapman Quercus succulenta Small Quercus virginiana P. Mill. var. maritima (Michx.) Sarg. [50] SCS PLANT CODE : QUHE2 QULA3 COMMON NAMES : Darlington oak laurel oak diamond-leaf oak swamp laurel oak laurel-leaf oak water oak obtusa oak spotted oak coastal laurel oak TAXONOMY : The scientific names of Darlington oak and laurel oak are Quercus hemisphaerica Bartram ex Willd. and Quercus laurifolia Michx. [4,8,40,43,49,50] The historical nomenclature of these oaks is complicated. In the past, most authorities, including Little [24], treated them as a single species but differed on the appropriate scientific name [43]. More recent authorities [4,8,40,43,49,50] recognize two species, Q. hemisphaerica and Q. laurifolia, based on anatomical differences and vast differences in site preferences. Laurel oak (Q. laurifolia) grows in wetlands. Darlington oak (Q. hemisphaerica) grows in uplands; it has acute leaf tips and flowers 2 weeks later than laurel oak in the same area [8,12,27]. In many cases, the literature treats Darlington and laurel oaks as one species. Information from authors that recognize and discuss Darlington oak and laurel oak as a separate species is included and noted as such. Darlington and laurel oak are placed within the subgenus Erythrobalanus, or black (red) oak group. Laurel oak is difficult to identify and is often confused with willow oak (Q. phellos) and water oak (Q. nigra) [40]. It has been suggested that laurel oak is a hybrid between these two species, but that may not be the case because willow oak is absent from southeastern Georgia and peninsular Florida where laurel oak is abundant [27]. Laurel oak hybridizes with the following species [24,27]: x Q. falcata (southern red oak): Q. X. beaumontiana Sarg. x Q. incana (bluejack oak): Q. X. atlantica Ashe x Q. laevis (turkey oak): Q. X. mellichampii Trel. x Q. marilandica (blackjack oak): Q. X. diversiloba Tharp ex A. Camus LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Darlington oak occurs from Virginia south to Texas and Florida [49] Laurel oak occurs on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains of the southeastern United States from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida and west to the extreme southeastern Gulf Coast of Texas. Disjunct populations occur north of its contiguous coastal range in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina [27,49]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress STATES : AL AR FL GA LA MS NC SC VA TN TX BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES : 74 Cabbage palmetto 81 Loblolly pine 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak 92 Sweetgum - willow oak 102 Baldcypress - tupelo 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Darlington oak is present in high hammocks which are situated between sand or clay hills and midslope hammocks [34]. Laurel oak is often present in forested wetlands, a transitional community between swamps and pine (Pinus spp.) flatlands or mesic hammocks. It grows throughout hydric hammocks, from the swamp margin to the drier sections, being replaced at the very dry end by live oak (Q. virginiana) and water oak [43]. The following published classifications list laurel oak as a dominant species: The natural communities of South Carolina [16] Eastern deciduous forest [45] Forest vegetation of the Big Thicket, southeast Texas [26] Forest associations in the uplands of the lower Gulf Coastal Plain [33] The natural features of southern Florida [6] Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States [32]


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Although laurel oak has hard, heavy, and strong wood, it is not good quality lumber. It is marketed for pulp wood and also used for firewood [8,27]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : The consistent and abundant acorn crops of these oaks are an important food source for many animals, including white-tailed deer, raccoon, squirrels, wild turkey, ducks, quail, smaller birds, and rodents. Laurel oak ranked second in quantity and frequency of acorns consumed by wild turkey in Florida. In a study of the 10 most heavily used winter foods of deer in Florida, laurel oak acorns rated fifth, sixth, and seventh in a 6-year period. Acorns of the black oak group do not germinate until spring, unlike those of the white oak group, and are an important winter food source [27]. PALATABILITY : Laurel oak is considered a good deer browse [38]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Laurel oak has attractive leaves and is often planted as an ornamental [27]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Laurel oak is susceptible to oak leaf blister (Taphrina caerulescens), actinopelte spot (Actinopelte dryina), and canker rots by various fungi. Although not damaged itself, laurel oak is a very susceptible host for the alternative stage of fusiform rust (Cronartium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme), a serious disease of southern pines. Weevils (Curculio spp.) infest the acorns of laurel oak [27]. Laurel oak will grow well on moderately drained sites using several silvicultural systems. Natural regeneration is possible using the shelterwood system but requires a relatively high density of 35 to 40 square feet basal area per acre (3.7-4.2 sq m/ha). If clearcutting is used, direct seeding is the best method to regenerate laurel oak. Planting seedlings may be difficult because of poor drainage and difficult access into bottomland sites [15].


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Laurel oak is a rapidly growing, short-lived, semi-evergreen tree. It can reach 148 feet (45 m) in height and 6.6 feet (2 m) in d.b.h. Darlington oak is slightly smaller at 131 feet (40 m) [8], and a geographic or climatic form in east Texas grows to only 30 feet (9.1 m) [40]. Poor site conditions may be responsible for the smaller heights reported for Darlington oak. Laurel oak develops a large, well-defined taproot on upland sands, but little else is known about its rooting habit [27]. Roots of trees growing in wet areas are often buttressed, which provides stability in wet soils and may help aerate the root system [43]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual: Laurel oak is monoecious. Acorn production begins when the tree reaches 15 to 20 years of age. Laurel oak produces abundant flowers almost every year and is a prolific seed bearer. Dissemination of the heavy acorns is mainly by squirrels, but gravity and water also play a role [27]. Germination is hypogeal. Although laurel oak acorns generally germinate in the spring, they exhibit only mild dormancy [27]. In one study, acorns showed a 50 percent germinative capacity without cold stratification [31]. Germination is unaffected or even slightly increased by soaking acorns in water, a condition frequently encountered in bottomland forests [48]. Seedlings grow rapidly [27]. Vegetative: If cut or burned, laurel oak sprouts from the base of the stump. Older trees do not sprout vigorously, and their sprouts are more susceptible to decay than those of younger trees [27]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Darlington oak grows on dry, sandy sites [11] including stable dunes of beaches and islands [20], mesic and xeric hammocks, and sandhills [7,42]. In east Texas, Darlington oak forms extensive mottes on sandy hammocks and prairies [40]. Laurel oak is generally considered a bottomland [47] or facultative wetland species [1]. It is not as dependent on specific site conditions as other hardwood associates [30]. It generally grows in soils that are better drained than where water oak and willow oak grow, but grows in very wet sites as well [40]. Laurel oak commonly grows on alluvial flood plains and sandy soils near rivers, swamps, and hammocks. It grows best on soils of the Ultisol and Inceptisol orders [27]. Laurel oak is moderately tolerant of flooding [11,43]. It is more tolerant of prolonged soil saturation than is water oak or live oak, but it cannot survive inundation during the entire growing season. Short periods of deep inundation have been known to kill laurel oak [43]. Laurel oak grows on high lands surrounding swamps and major rivers which flood deeply and frequently but drain rapidly because of relief. It also grows on wet flats which are better drained than swamps [18]. In addition to bottomland forests, laurel oak is found in bay swamps, mixed hardwood swamps, river swamps, hydric hammocks, and cypress (Taxodium spp.) ponds and strands [11,39]. Laurel oak also grows on barrier islands off the Atlantic Coast [17,21]. On an island off South Carolina, laurel and live oaks grow 0.3 mile (0.5 km) inland from the ocean on the southern end of the island and to the beach on the northern end [17]. In addition to trees mentioned in SAF Cover Types; Habitat Types and Plant Communities; and Taxonomy, overstory associates include Nuttall oak (Q. nuttallii), white oak (Q. alba), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), red maple (Acer rubrum), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), swamp hickory (Carya glabra), and honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos); and on wetter sites water hickory (Carya aquatica), waterlocust (Gleditsia aquatica), and overcup oak (Q. lyrata). On better-drained sites, laurel oak is associated with spruce pine (Pinus glabra), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), and cherrybark oak (Q. falcata var. pagodifolia). Common associates of laurel oak in Florida are southern magnolia (Magnolia grandifolia), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), scrub hickory (C. floridana), and Carolina basswood (Tilia caroliniana). Associated shrubs and small trees include American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), Virgnia-willow (Itea virginica), poison-sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), swamp cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora), littleleaf cyrilla (C. racemiflora var. parvifolia), sebastian bush (Sebastiana ligustrina), dahoon (Ilex cassine), possumhaw (I. decidua), swamp dogwood (Cornus stricta), sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), tree lyonia (lyonia ferruginea), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), pinckneya (Pinckneya pubens), and rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.). Associated vines include coral greenbrier (Smilax walteri), laurelleaf greenbrier (S. laurifolia), crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia), and Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens) [27]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Laurel oak is shade tolerant and often becomes established under and grows up through a dense canopy [27]. Monk [28] considers laurel oak a climax pioneer species because it invades successional communities and is instrumental in the conversion to climax. It has produced successful seedlings beneath a laurel oak canopy [5]. Laurel oak is also an early invader on some sites. It will invade early seral wetlands if a seed source is nearby [9]. With fire suppression, laurel and willow oaks invaded a wetland savanna in the Big Thicket area of east Texas. The savanna eventually became an oak flat with very little growing beneath the oaks and standing water much of the year [46]. In the absence of fire, Darlington oak [10,29,42] and laurel oak invade and become established on former longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) sites and sandhill sites [5,13,36]. Laurel oak was found on upland longleaf sites with colored sand, but not on harsher white sand soils which are leached and well sorted [5]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Laurel oak sustains high leaf fall production from October to March [43]. It flowers in February or March, at the same time that the last of the previous year's leaves are shed. Acorns mature after 2 years and fall in late September and October. Germination occurs in the spring [27].


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Laurel oak is fire intolerant. It is frequently top-killed by even low-severity surface fires because it has relatively thin bark. It is also a poor natural pruner [27]. Many laurel oak stands such as those on hydric hammocks owe their existence to protection from fire [43]. Hardwood hammocks are extremely susceptible to fire damage, especially during the dry season. A dry-season surface fire may burn the organic soil down to the bedrock [44]. If fire is suppressed, laurel oak expands from hydric hammocks into adjacent communities [43]. Unlike the original hammock, expanding hammocks often have a dense saw-palmetto (Serenoa repens) understory. A dry-season fire in Myakka River State Park, Florida, killed many large laurel oaks in the expanding hammock but not in the original hammock. The dense saw-palmetto understory was, in part, responsible for the high mortality of laurel oak in the expanding hammock [19]. Information on the response of Darlington oak to fire was not available as of this writing (1992). Research is needed on the fire ecology of Darlingon oak. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Laurel oak smaller than 3 inches (7.6 cm) in d.b.h. can be top-killed by low-severity fire [2]. More severe fires may completely kill this fire-sensitive species [27,34]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Young laurel oak sprouts vigorously from the root crown if top-killed by fire. Older trees do not sprout as readily. Trees subject to occasional fires commonly develop heart rot where fire wounded [27]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Oak-dominated forests on elevated margins of wetland ecosystems are often converted to loblolly (Pinus taeda) and slash pine (P. elliottii) plantations because of the high productivity potential of these sites. Prescibed fire is used to prevent hardwood establishment in the plantations [3]. Laurel oak up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in d.b.h. can be top-killed and sprouts kept small and controllable with prescribed winter fires. Summer fires are also effective at hardwood control, but do not enhance the wildlife food supply [2].


SPECIES: Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus laurifolia
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