Quercus macrocarpa x Q. turbinella hybrid in UHI research plots. Photos by Nina Bassuk

For nearly 15 years, Nina Bassuk and her grad students at the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) have been developing hybrid oaks for exceptional tolerance of urban conditions (drought, alkaline soil, etc.) Bassuk now has 230 hybrid oaks of 2-3 inch caliper in her research fields. “I’d be happy for villages and cities in NY to plant them out so I can continue to evaluate them over time,” she says.

She is offering them to municipalities of any size in April of 2019. The cost would be $50 per tree to cover the B&B process. Communities could arrange for transportation or pick the trees up themselves. Bassuk says it would be preferable to have at least five trees go to any one community so she can efficiently evaluate them around the state.

If your community would like to plant at least five of these unique, new oak hybrids, please contact Nina Bassuk at [email protected]. Read on for more background about this fascinating research.   

Q. macrocarpa x Q. gambellii x Q. lyrata growing experimentally on the Cornell campus.

As background, in 2004-06 Nina received pollen from about 40 oak species in the white oak group from all around the country. She and her students used oaks from the Cornell Botanic Gardens and Arboretum as mother plants to create new hybrids for urban use. “The idea was to create cold-hardy oaks that were tolerant of alkaline soils, drought, diseases such as powdery mildew, and that had good form,” she says. “We also wanted to propagate them clonally, on their own roots, to avoid graft incompatibility which is a problem for oaks in general.”

Quercus warei x Q. comptonea growing experimentally on Cornell campus.

The mother plants were primarily swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), but Bassuk also used a few Quercus warei ‘Long’ (Regal Prince) and chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii). This resulted in over 300 unique plants.

Hybrid oaks in UHI research plots.

In subsequent years, UHI clonally propagated those 300 unique plants and has been evaluating them in UHI research plots. Many have also been planted out on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, at the Geneva Experiment Station, at Schichtel’s Nursery in Springville NY, and at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Fastigiate hybrid oak and others in the UHI research plots. 

If your community would like to plant at least five of these utterly unique oak hybrids, please contact Nina Bassuk at [email protected].