Friday, July 15, 2011

Bur Oak

I like trees, all kinds of trees, pine trees and oak trees, trees I’ve planted and trees that have been on my farm for a hundred years and probably more. But of all the trees that grow at Roshara, I am most impressed with the Bur Oak (sometimes spelled Burr).

First off, I respect the Bur Oak’s toughness. They withstand fire, storms, dry weather, wet weather—they come through it all and continue living and growing year after year, sometimes surviving two or three hundred years.

Bur Oaks are not especially attractive when compared to some other trees such as a Balsam Fir (I have but one of these at my farm). But in their own way, with their thick, corky bark and scraggly limbs going this way and that, they have a beauty all their own. Besides, Bur Oak trees are native to my farm. No one hauled them in from somewhere else. They have thrived in much of central and southwestern Wisconsin as long as anything living has been here. I marvel at that.

Some Bur Oak facts: They may grow 80 feet tall, even taller in richer soils, and reach diameters greater than four feet. The Bur Oak roots may reach depths of 20 feet and a lateral spread of 40 feet. The weight of the roots can equal that of the tops. One of the reasons the Bur Oak lives so long and does so well is its tremendous root system—what you see of the tree is only about half of it—the other half is below ground.

Sort of like people. What you don’t see about a person is often more important than what you do see.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: No matter how old you are, plant a tree. And don’t forget to speak up when someone wants to cut a living tree for no good reason.

CHECK THIS OUT: My friend, Phil Martin, who is a writer, editor, and publisher, has just published a new book: HOW TO WRITE YOUR BEST STORY. It’s advice for writers who want to polish their story writing skills. Great collection of practical tips. Available on, and other booksellers. And only $14.95. What a deal!

July 26, Noon, Wis Historical Society Museum, on the Square, Madison, WI. Ringling Bros. Circus.

July 31-August 6, Writing Workshop, The Clearing, Door County.

August 10. 5 p.m., program at 6 p.m. Red Crown Lodge, 3852 Highway 51 North, Arbor Vitae, WI Preview of Ken Burns’ latest film, Prohibition. Discussion of Prohibition in Wisconsin. Free. Registration required by August 5. Register: or call 608-263-4508.

August 13. 5:30 p.m. Manitowoc County Historical Society. Horse Drawn Days

1 comment:

Bill said...

I wouldn't have even known the name 'bur oak' but now I know to see and respect those trees. You have to be impressed by native plants that manage to do all right for a couple of centuries or more. Thanks for this post.