Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #157513


item Fare, Donna
item Cheatham, Christopher

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Horticulture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/7/2004
Publication Date: 12/4/2004
Citation: Pounders, C., Fare, D.C., Cheatham, C. 2004. Provenance and production location affects growth and quality of Quercus phellos L. and Q. shumardii Buckl. seedlings. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 22(4):202-208.

Interpretive Summary: The source from which oak seeds are collected can affect the environmental response of plants during production and ultimately in the landscape and is often ignored by many shade tree growers when selecting material for production. Since trees are often produced in different climates and marked throughout the US, it is imperative that seed provenance be considered for optimal plant performance. Foresters prefer that seedlings for reforestation not be moved more than one cold hardiness zone north or south of the native stand where seed originated. Species used for urban forestry such as willow oak and shumard oak are marketed over broad geographic areas with diverse climates. During its long life cycle, oaks are generally exposed to the full range of climatic extremes and stresses. Successful establishment and development of healthy oaks in landscapes is dependent on a tree's innate ability to adapt to environmental fluctuations. This research indicates that when oak seedlings are grown in different hardiness zones, plants from different seed sources varied more in plant height than trunk caliper and quality. Better understanding of the short and long-term implications of seed source allows growers to select seed that is appropriate for their production environment as well as adapted to landscape use over a wide geographical area.

Technical Abstract: Seed origin is an important part of oak production that is often ignored by many shade tree growers when selecting material for production. Results of this study indicate interactions between seed sources and production environments have a marked effect on growth and quality of seedlings of willow (Quercus phellos L.) and shumard (Q. shumardii Buckl.) oak in the first two years of production. Seedlings from selected provenances, grown in different hardiness zones, varied more in plant height than trunk caliper and quality. Seedlings from the southern part of the native range of the two species generally grew better in both climates the first growing season. After the second season total height growth for the various provenances disproved the generalization that provenances from the southern native range always outgrow those collected from the central and northern sectors. Exposing seedlings from various provenances to four environmental regiments at two production locations (MS-TN, TN-MS, MS-MS, and TN-TN, year1-year 2, respectively) was more effective at detecting provenances with broad environmental adaptation than simply comparing growth at the two locations.