Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Quercus incana


SPECIES: Quercus incana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1994. Quercus incana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : QUEINC SYNONYMS : Quercus cinerea Michx. [22] SCS PLANT CODE : QUIN COMMON NAMES : bluejack oak upland willow oak sandjack oak cinnamon oak TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for bluejack oak is Quercus incana Bartr. (Fagaceae) [22]. There are no accepted infrataxa. Bluejack oak forms hybrids with seven other oak species [22,40]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Quercus incana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Bluejack oak occurs on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from southeastern Virginia south to central Florida; west to Louisiana and eastern and central Texas; and north to southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas [22]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory STATES : AL AR FL GA LA MS NC OK SC TX VA BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K112 Southern mixed forest (seral stages) SAF COVER TYPES : 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 72 Southern scrub oak 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 85 Slash pine - hardwood SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Bluejack oak typically occurs in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) communities [25,27,36,]. Bluejack oak and turkey oak (Quercus laevis) grow to about half the height of the dominant longleaf pines, maintaining a sparse middle canopy layer. The herb layer is usually dominated by wiregrass (Aristida stricta) [28]. There are three distinguishable phases of the Florida sandhills (longleaf pine) associations: 1) turkey oak (Quercus laevis), 2) bluejack oak or sand post oak (Q. stellata var. margaretta), and 3) southern red oak (Quercus falcata) [6,7,25,36]. In each of these associations, longleaf pine occurs as scattered overstory individuals. The turkey oak phase occurs on the driest sites, with scattered bluejack oak and persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). The bluejack oak phase is more characteristic of fine-textured, somewhat more fertile soils. Live oaks (Quercus spp.) are common in the overstory. The herb layer is characterized by wiregrass and pineywoods dropseed (Sporobolus junceus) [6]. In the sandhills of the Big Thicket region of Texas, dominant oaks are bluejack oak and post oak (Q. stellata); dominant pine species include longleaf pine, shortleaf pine (P. echinata), and loblolly pine (P. taeda). Pine densities are low, herb cover is sparse, and there are many areas of exposed sand [6]. In Texas, bluejack oak is found on the deep sands of Pineywoods, Gulf prairies and marshes, and post oak savanna (Quercus stellata). In post oak savanna, associated tree species include blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), black hickory (Carya texana), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), Texas live oak (Q. virginiana var. fusiformis), post oak, and sand post oak. Associated herb layer species include sand lovegrass (Eragrostis trichodes) and threeawn (Aristida spp.). In the northeast Pineywoods, bluejack oak occurs in shortleaf pine-post oak-southern red oak and longleaf pine-bluejack oak associations. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is associated with bluejack oak on some sites [45]. Bluejack oak shares dominance with blackjack oak and sand post oak on sites downslope of the extremely dry ridge tops that are dominated by turkey oak [6]. Bluejack oak is listed as a dominant, codominant, or indicator species in the following publications: Longleaf pine communities of the west Gulf Coastal Plain [4] The vegetation of the Apalachicola National Forest: an ecological perspective [7] Natural communities of Florida's inland sand ridges [9] Landscape ecosystem classification for South Carolina [19] Forest vegetation of the Big Thicket, southeast Texas [23] Eastern deciduous forest, Vol. 1 [41]


SPECIES: Quercus incana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Bluejack oak wood is close-grained, hard, and strong; the tree is usually too small to be of much value except for fuel or posts [40]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Bluejack oak acorns are consumed by fox squirrels, including the rare Sherman's fox squirrel [29]. The acorns are also consumed by white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and quail. Bluejack oak is not browsed by white-tailed deer except in areas where succulent sprouts are available and where white-tailed deer numbers are high. Oaks, including bluejack oak, provide brushy cover for birds in longleaf pine communities which otherwise do not have midstory cover. Ground cover is sparse under the oaks; birds benefit from having areas of exposed mineral soil [32]. Sherman's fox squirrel is dependent on the longleaf pine-scrub oak communities in which bluejack oak occurs. Other rare species that are associated with these longleaf pine communities include the red-cockaded woodpecker, a scarab beetle (Ataenius sciurus) which is only found in Sherman's fox squirrel nests, gopher tortoise, and indigo snake [29,46]. PALATABILITY : Bluejack oak acorns were highly preferred by fox squirrels in a study that included 12 species of oaks [30]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The ranges of nutritive value of bluejack oak acorns have been reported as follows [32,34]: Percent protein 5.9 - 7.42 fat 12.66-31.77 N-free extract 40.37-67.06 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Longleaf pine communities (in which bluejack oak occurs) are ranked as threatened by the Texas Natural Heritage Program [46]. The Florida Natural Areas Inventory has ranked sandhill (longleaf pine) communities as secure globally but vulnerable at the state level (G4/G3) [29]. The removal of longleaf pine from thousands of acres of sandhills, coupled with fire suppression, has resulted in the conversion of former longleaf pine savanna to oak scrub and hardwood hammock communities. Many of these areas are being converted to other pines, and very few acres are being managed to retain the typical longleaf pine physiognomy [27]. There is a need to preserve longleaf pine habitat, in view of its ecological importance and diminished distribution. Loss of this habitat is identified as a major cause of population declines of gopher tortoise and indigo snake [29,42]. Bluejack oak is recommended for inclusion in longleaf pine stands for its wildlife value [29]. Attempts to reforest former longleaf pine forests with longleaf and other pines have included clearcutting and burning the scrub oaks and planting pine seedlings. The oaks are difficult to control because of their sprouting ability. Herbicides were reported as effective in reducing bluejack oak, resulting in an increase in pine seedling growth [24]. In Florida, successful conversion of scrub oaks to slash pine (Pinus elliottii) using similar site preparation methods has been reported [16]. In eastern Texas, however, clearcutting and burning or clearcutting and scalping scrub oak sites on Typic Quartzipsamments soils has resulted in the virtually complete removal of organic matter from approximately 6,000 acres (2,400 ha). Several attempts at reforestation were unsuccessful, largely due to droughty site conditions and related animal or insect predation on seedlings. In this study longleaf pine outplanted from containers had the highest survival rate. Timber production is not recommended as the primary goal for droughty sands; aesthetics, groundwater protection, and wildlife management should take a higher priority when developing management plans for such sites [37].


SPECIES: Quercus incana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Bluejack oak is a native, deciduous small tree, usually growing to 35 feet (10.6 m), with a maximum height of about 50 feet (15 m) [11,40]. The crown is open and irregular, the trunk is usually short [15], and the branches are stout and crooked [40]. On the Coastal Plain of Florida, bluejack oak roots were concentrated in the top 5 inches (13 cm) of soil; this may have been related to the low fertility of deeper soil horizons in this habitat. A deep root system is normal for most oaks [1]. The acorns are 0.4 to 0.72 inch (10-18 mm) broad; the involucre covers one-half to one-third of the acorn [11]. The national champion bluejack oak was reported from Texas; it measured 51 feet (15.5 m) in height, 7 feet (2.1 m) in circumference, and had a crown spread of 56 feet (17 m) [15]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Bluejack oak reproduces by seed (acorns) [15]. Acorns are first produced when trees are about 2 inches (5 cm) dbh, with optimum yields at 4 to 8 inches (9.6-20 cm) dbh. Acorn yields per square foot of basal area are relatively high. Bluejack oak is a consistent acorn producer [17]; one study reported that 91 percent of bluejack oaks produced acorns over a 6-year period [32]. Bluejack oak sprouts vigorously from the root crown when aboveground stems are damaged or removed. It also forms thickets which are produced by subterranean runners [15]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Bluejack oak is restricted to well-drained, sandy upland soils, flatwoods, and river terraces [11,15]. It increases in dominance downslope of the ridge tops; these downslope areas have finer soils and better developed underlying clay horizons nearer the surface than do ridgetop sites. Thus downslope sites are slightly less xeric than the ridgetops [6,39]. The highest elevation at which bluejack oak occurs is about 660 feet (200 m) [11]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Bluejack oak is probably not tolerant of deep shade, although it does grow under open pine canopies. Monk [25] described bluejack oak as a successional species: it is characteristically associated with successional communities and is encountered in climax stands only as widely scattered individuals. The successional relationships of bluejack oak are closely controlled by fire and are therefore further discussed in FIRE ECOLOGY and FIRE EFFECTS. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Bluejack oak flowers from April to May [11]. The acorns mature in the fall of their second season. The leaves are sometimes retained until late into winter, particularly when winter temperatures are mild [15].


SPECIES: Quercus incana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Bluejack oak is well adapted to survive fire and may be dependent on fire to maintain the open conditions that it requires to be competitive. It occurs in longleaf pine communities which are described as a fire climax. The natural fire regime of longleaf pine communities is characterized by frequent low-intensity surface fires [6,27,36]. A decrease in fire frequency favors scrub oaks over longleaf pine, but very long fire-free periods are unfavorable to bluejack oak. In the absence of fire, bluejack oak is outcompeted by taller and more shade tolerant species such as laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and sand live oak [28,47]. Top-killed or top-damaged bluejack oak sprout from the root crown following fire [13,27,28,33]. Bluejack oak occurs in highly fire-adapted and fire-dependent communities on dry sandhills. Where longleaf pine and wiregrass are dominant, sufficient litter builds up and fires occur frequently, sometimes annually. The natural interval is thought to be 3 to 10 years. Sufficient fuel to carry surface fire accumulates in about 3 to 4 years [6]. The natural fire regime was maintained or expanded for thousands of years by human-set fires. In presettlement times Native Americans burned these communities for a number of purposes, usually at short intervals. European settlers continued the practice to improve grazing, remove "rough", and reduce plant diseases and insects. Fire suppression and fire avoidance (meaning no fires were set) were practiced in the early parts of this century until the beneficial effects of fire were recognized and began to be incorporated into management plans [6,18]. There are a number of hypotheses to explain the presence of bluejack oak in longleaf pine communities. Garren [13] differentiated between the typical longleaf pine community, which has no hardwood midstory, and longleaf pine-scrub oak types. These oaks include turkey oak, blackjack oak, sand post oak, and bluejack oak. He proposed that scrub oak reproduction appears in small openings in typical longleaf pine forests, establishing on soils which are so dry and sandy that other plants grow poorly and are unable to compete. Annual or frequent fires thin longleaf pine reproduction and allow an increase in the number of scrub oak stems through sprouting; continued frequent fire maintains the presence of these fire-tolerant scrub oaks in the community [13]. Longleaf pine has been slow to reinvade areas from which it was removed; the fire regime has been altered both by its absence and by fire suppression [6]. Bluejack oak is codominant with turkey oak or may be the sole dominant on some former longleaf pine sandhills; it has been suggested that bluejack oak is less tolerant of extremely xeric conditions or prefers more fertile soils than does turkey oak [28]. All three phases of the longleaf pine-scrub oak type are fire maintained [6,25]. The role of bluejack oak in these communities is determined by fire and soil moisture regime; where turkey oak and bluejack oak cooccur and where fire has been excluded for several decades, bluejack oak abundance declines more rapidly than that of turkey oak [28]. In Florida, bluejack oak decreased dramatically in importance value between 1951 and 1972 in a longleaf pine-turkey oak stand that had not experienced fire since 1931. However, on a longleaf pine-bluejack oak site with a similar fire-free period, bluejack oak importance value decreased only slightly between 1951 and 1972. The author hypothesized that bluejack oak will probably continue to decline in the absence of fire, and mesic hammock species will increase in importance [39]. Bluejack oak is not a typical member of sand pine (Pinus clausa) scrub communities, which occur on many of the same types of sandhills as longleaf pine communities. Distribution and composition of sand pine scrub appears to be related to edaphic conditions [6]. These communities are also fire maintained and fire-dependent; however, their fire regime is quite different from that of the longleaf pine communities. Sand pine scrub communities historically experienced intense crown fires at intervals of 30 to 60 years [6,27]. The absence of bluejack oak from these communities may have more to do with the thick understory of evergreen oaks and/or edaphic conditions than with fire intensity, but this relationship remains unexplored in the literature. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker


SPECIES: Quercus incana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : In southwestern Alabama, a 1976 prescribed, late summer fire in a longleaf pine stand resulted in only 9 percent complete kill of all oaks (bluejack oak stems numbered 23 out of a total of 75 oak stems), even though the fire caused 89 percent defoliation of oaks. A second summer fire in 1978 resulted in a total of 20 percent complete kill of oaks, mostly among those stems that had been top-killed in the first fire. Crown reduction and mortality were strongly associated with diameter; for all hardwoods, mortality was highest for the 1-inch diameter class. On a rating scale where 5 indicates no effect and 1 is complete kill, the average degree of damage sustained by bluejack oak stems (average 1.7 inches [4.3 cm] dbh) from summer fire was rated as 3.9, with an average crown reduction of 29 percent [3]. In the same study, 1980 spring prescribed fires (3 fires, which were set at specific phenological stages) resulted in a 47 percent crown reduction the first year after burning, and a 39 percent crown reduction (i.e., 8% recovery of crown canopy) after the second growing season. Only 5 out of 537 hardwood trees were completely killed by these fires. A second set of spring fires (in 1981) was more effective at causing hardwood damage, but still completely killed only 12 of 526 trees. The species most resistant to fire injury were bluejack oak and turkey oak [3]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Bluejack oaks sprout following top-kill by fire; fires usually result in an increase in the number of bluejack oak stems even when they have been repeatedly killed back [13,43]. Stems larger than 8 inches dbh have a greatly reduced ability to sprout after top-kill [43]. In Florida, prescribed summer fires in oak domes (within longleaf pine communities) caused stem mortality of bluejack oak. The degree of mortality was not reported. Bluejack oak sprouted in less than 1 year following the fire (most of the other species in the dome sprouted in less than 6 months) [47]. In northern Florida, a 50-year-old slash pine-longleaf pine stand was subjected to two prescribed winter fires 2 years apart. The overstory pines were unaffected by the fire; canopy coverage of bluejack oak decreased from 0.9 percent after the first fire to 0.2 percent after the second fire [26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed fire could be used to maintain longleaf pine/wiregrass communities (in which bluejack oak occurs). There is a need to consider the following factors when planning prescribed fires for these communities: 1) fire regimes need to be variable within and among sites, 2) the sites themselves are variable, 3) ecotones and transitional communities need to be maintained, and 4) there are species and communities which were historically dependent on fires originating within pinelands and flatwoods [27]. Where longleaf pine has been removed, and if there are few or no longleaf pine seed trees, frequent fire results in a nearly pure scrub oak type. Heavy logging followed by infrequent fire results in succession to oak-hickory with or without an intervening scrub oak stage [13]. Fire may be effective in reducing canopy cover and stature of bluejack oak but it is not effective in eradicating bluejack oak from a site [44]. Single prescribed fires have very little effect on bluejack oak; fires repeated annually are more effective in reducing bluejack oak cover and density [3]. In South Carolina, a patchy, lightning-caused, mid-summer fire resulted in significantly reduced growth (the first growing season following the fire) in all species except bluejack oak [5]. It has been suggested that timing prescribed fires for periods when reserves are lowest may decrease oak sprouting potential [44]. Seasonal trends in carbohydrate reserves for bluejack oak have been reported for western Florida [44]. Other factors being equal, burning later in the season may increase crown reduction and top-kill. Timing fires to maximize intensity may be just as important or more important than phenological stage for maximizing oak reduction. Growing season fires carry a greater risk of damaging pines, however [3].


SPECIES: Quercus incana
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