Shumard oak is a native tree that offers shade in the summer and a burst of rich color in fall.
Shumard oak is an ideal tree for urban landscapes, including both home yards and commercial settings. It's often seen in parking lot islands, since it copes well with air pollution, poor drainage, drought, and compacted soils.
Many gardeners appreciate Shumard oak for its interesting foliage. It features traditional oak-shaped leaves that are dark green throughout most of the year. Then in fall and winter, the 4- to 8-inch leaves turn a brilliant red or red-orange before falling to the ground.
It makes a lovely shade tree, thanks to its broad, open crown that gets more rounded as the tree gets older. Once mature, trees can reach 80 feet tall and have a 50- to 60-foot canopy.
Shumard oak also boasts some of the largest acorns of all Florida oaks, with each acorn reaching up to 1.5 inches wide. Wildlife like squirrels, deer, and turkey love to feed on the acorns, and some people enjoy using them in craft projects and holiday decor.
This native tree is found growing across the Eastern United States and is hardy to USDA plant hardiness zones 5-10. In Florida, it grows wild throughout the Florida Panhandle and across North Florida southward to Marion County.
Planting and Care
Shumard oak can be grown in full sun in acidic, neutral, or alkaline soil. It will grow best in a soil that's rich and moist, though it can also be planted in drier sites.
Dig a hole that's at least one-and-a-half times wider than the diameter of the root ball and slightly shallower. Ultimately the top of the root ball should be one to two inches higher than the surrounding soil once the tree is planted.
Use a sharp knife or a shovel to shave off the periphery of the root ball before placing it into the hole. Fill in around the root ball with soil, packing it in firmly with your foot. Then water the tree well to help remove any air voids in the soil.
Spread a layer mulch in the area around the tree but do not cover the rootball area. Follow a regular watering schedule for the first year, applying water to the root ball two to three times a week.
As a rule, this resilient tree is generally free from pests and serious diseases. Established trees also tend to be drought tolerant, though they may drop their leaves during extended droughts.
Like other oaks, Shumard oak needs to be pruned routinely when it's young in order to help the tree develop a strong branch structure. For more information on Shumard oak, contact your county Extension office.