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Talking Trees Live Series: Why October is Renamed Oaktober in Chicago

Why October is Renamed Oaktober

Arborist Shawn Kingzette shares everything you need to know about Oak trees from proper tree care to common insects and diseases.

Oak Tree Facts

  1. In the 1880s, native Oak trees comprised more than 60% of the Chicago region’s tree canopy. (00:04:29)
  2. Sadly, country wide the number of Oak trees is dwindling due to habitat loss, insects (gypsy moths), health issues, and natural regeneration. (00:05:54)
  3. It is best to plant an Oak tree from an acorn because it is a natural seedling, and it is easier to move around since Oaks tend to be harder to transplant due to their tap root. (00:07:06)
  4. Not all acorns will germinate when they drop! To test which ones are good, you should place them in a bucket of water and the good ones will sink. (00:36:04)

Why is October Recognized as ‘OAKtober’

Several reasons! (00:13:25)

  • They are making their acorns this time of year.
  • It is the state tree of Illinois.
  • Oaks start to turn color in the fall.
  • It is also a good reminder to plant trees, and fall is the best season to.

Why are Oaks Essential to the Ecosystem

Because they live for so long. (00:18:35)

Certain insects and plants have adapted to live with them and depend on them.

For example, a blue jay can depend on the Oak’s acorns for a source of food supply.

Common Oak Tree Diseases

For Burr Oaks, we are starting to see a leaf fungus called bur oak blight. It prevents water from getting out to the ends of the leaves, so in late summer they will crinkle and turn brown. Good news is, it’s not fatal to the tree. (00:28:22)

Stressed Oaks with root-related problems are susceptible to an insect called Two-lined Chestnut Borer. (00:29:11)

There’s also oak wilt and armillaria root rot:

  • Oak wilt is a dangerous fungus that blocks the flow of water inside of trees.
  • Armillaria root rot is when the root system is not in good soil. (00:29:26)

Oak Tree Dormant Pruning

The timing of when Oak trees should be trimmed (pruned) is essential.

Oak Wilt spreads when the insect carries the disease from an infected tree to a non-infected tree. The insect is attracted to freshly trimmed trees, and commonly happens from April-summer.

We avoid trimming Oaks during the summer. (00:30:14)

Here’s more information on why you should avoid trimming Oak Trees in the Summer.

Viewer Questions

How long do Oaks live?

Several hundreds of years. (00:08:25)

How do you prevent an Oak gall?

The gall is the tree’s response to something that has happened to it, like a tree wart. Often there is an insect that releases chemicals into the tree that causes the formation so it can develop the rest of its life cycle inside of it, protected from outside harm.

There are no treatments since most do not harm the tree. (00:09:28)

There are a lot of dead branches at the top of my Live Oak, should those be trimmed? [Florida Resident]

Yes, trimming deadwood is good for the tree’s health and safety purposes.

In the south, Live Oaks are susceptible to Oak Wilt, which is a fatal tree disease for Oak trees. There are certain seasons for trimming so be sure to work with a certified arborist to make sure to trim it in the right season. (00:12:09)

Favorite Oak Tree for Fall Color

Shawn’s favorite is the White Oak because of the pinkish red colors, and the branching structure is graceful and delicate. (00:15:02)

Another popular one is the Burr Oak because of its branching structure. It has a good “Halloween” feel.

There are two main types of Oaks: the red and white. (00:16:30)

  • Red Oaks: pointed leaves
  • White Oaks: rounded leaves

Does the acorn size make a difference when planting?

That is how we identify a tree. Most of the time, we can tell what type of Oak tree it is by the acorn. (00:17:06)

Are there Oak trees better suited for an urban street?

Swamp White Oak, it does well with high-clay soils in Chicago. They do well in less than perfect soil conditions. (00:20:20)

Are there Oaks that are more wildfire resistant than others? [California Resident]

Burr Oaks have adapted to living with fire. Their bark and canopy are thick, which is why it prefers to live out in the prairie versus the woods because it doesn’t like to ‘live with other trees.’ (00:23:00)

How do we care for young and mature Oaks?

Here are a few things you can do as a homeowner to care for both young and mature Oaks:

  • Proper mulching
  • Watering
  • Trimming (pruning)
  • Managing common Oak tree health issues
  • Having a certified arborist come out and examine your Oak’s health

Shawn also mentioned to be mindful of any construction projects (like a new driveway or garage). Oak trees are very sensitive to construction type injuries that damage their root system, any change in drainage, or soil compaction. (00:26:46)

Upcoming Talking Trees Live Series

Tune in for the next Talking Trees Live event! Each series will explore various tree care topics from damaging tree insects and diseases to landscape best practices and seasonal tree care tips. 

Have all your questions and concerns ready! You can ask them all live during the streaming interview. 

Be sure to ‘like’ Davey’s Facebook page to access the Talking Trees series live.

Don’t have Facebook? No worries, you can access all the past videos here.

>>> Check out the schedule here for upcoming Talking Trees Live topics!

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