The oak is a traditional symbol of strength, wisdom, nobility and longevity in a number of cultures. With some of the oldest oaks alive today believed to be between eight hundred and a thousand years old, and most species living between one hundred and two hundred years, it’s easy to see why this symbolism has endured. Although the full rewards of planting an oak tree may only be realized in a generation or two, the act of planting an oak tree can be both symbolic and beneficial in the short term as well. Here we’ll look at some oak trees that fair well in the plant hardiness Zone 6b that includes Peekskill, New York and surrounding areas.
White Oak (Quercus Alba)
A native to the eastern and central states, the white oak is so called because of its distinct light gray, almost white bark. The white oak can grow to between 80 - 100 feet and has a huge spread that can sometimes reach as wide as the tree is high. This makes the white oak an excellent shade tree for large plots. Like most oak species, the white oak is a slow grower, reaching sexual maturity at 20 years of age, but only bearing acorns after 50.
Black Oak (Quercus Velutina)
Also known as the eastern black oak, this is another native to the eastern and central United States and as such is well suited to the Peekskill climate. Slightly smaller than the white oak, the black oak can be expected to grow somewhere in the range of 65 - 80 feet. Rather than spreading out horizontally the way the white oak does, the black oak’s foliage forms a large irregular/circular shape.
Water Oak (Quercus Nigra)
The water oak is renowned for its hardiness and adaptability to a wide range of soil conditions. The leaves are somewhat unusual for an oak tree, with a smooth edge and tear drop shape. With a mature height of between 50 - 80 feet and a spread of the same, the water oak is also relatively small for an oak tree. Another distinguishing feature of the water oak is that it is relatively short-lived at only 60 - 80 years, however the upshot of this is that it’s a fast and sturdy grower at more than 24 inches of growth a year.
Northern Red Oak (Quercus Rubra)
Grown in the open, the northern red oak develops a thick, strong trunk and reaches a height of around 80 feet. The red oak is one of the faster growing cultivars of oak and can reach a height of around 20 feet in as little as 10 years. It is believed that the red oak gets its name from its bright red fall foliage, however it may also be in reference to the reddish brown color of the wood. The red oak has an extremely long lifespan of up to 500 years with some famous specimens found in Connecticut, Maryland and Kentucky.
Nuttall Oak (Quercus Texana)
The Nuttall Oak is a fast growing specimen and has the added advantage of taking well to being transplanted, meaning that it’s possible to plant near or fully matured. The Nuttall Oak grows tall, at around 80 feet and has a full, dense foliage of lobed leaves ending in multiple points.