Underutilized Trees for Urban Use: Quercus michauxii

Author Jean Zimmerman with one of Ithaca’s thriving swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii) street trees, about 15 years old.

Council Board Member and Commercial & Consulting Arborist for SavATree Jean Zimmerman provided this superb story and photos. Jean is also an extensively published author (jeanzimmerman.com), centering much of her fiction and nonfiction around the history of Manhattan.

When saplings of swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii) showed up on the streets of Ithaca, New York in 2007, even some knowledgeable arborists might have been surprised. Rarely seen in the colder northern precincts of Zone 5 central New York, Quercus michauxii hails from the Southern United States, where it keeps its feet wet in swamps and mixed hardwood forests. When I encountered striking specimens in the college town recently, I wondered how michauxii had wound up on the streets of “Mythaca.”

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Underutilized Trees for Urban Use: ‘Regal Prince’ Oak

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Foliage of Regal Prince oak ● Photo by itrees.com

Regal Prince is the trademark name for Quercus x warei ‘Long’, a narrow, upright hybrid of fastigiate English oak (Quercus robur f. fastigiata) and swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor). Its leaves are clearly intermediate in shape and are glossy and leathery like those of swamp white oak. In Ithaca, Nina Bassuk and Andy Hillman first planted Regal Prince in 2005, and the oaks have performed well there ever since.

Quercus bicolor x robur 'Regal Prince'
Regal Prince oaks alongside the main thoroughfare in Ithaca, New York. Photo by Nina Bassuk

“It’s a good tree for tight spaces—not a shade tree as such,” says Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute Director Bassuk. “It has the shape of the fastigiate English oak but is more tolerant of poor drainage and is mildew resistant, unlike Q. robur. It also tolerates a higher pH than does straight Q. bicolor. During last summer’s drought its foliage stayed green throughout so it appears both wet and dry tolerant (after establishment of course).”

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