Searching for the northernmost White Oaks of USA

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David L.
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:22 am

Searching for the northernmost White Oaks of USA

Post by David L. » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:16 am

Hi Everyone,

I am living in Havelock, Quebec, CAN, along the US Border (Clinton County of NY state). I am a forest ingineer that love trees, so i would describe myself as a tree hunter, recording and mesuring in my gps all unusual trees I encounter.

Here in my area, being the northermost extension of the Adirondacks, I discovered a white oak grove containing about 300 of them. It seems no one was aware of them. So I'd like to know more about the white oak in this area. Here is my project:

I would like to know for my own interest where are the nearest white oak trees or stands in Ney York state, either in Franklin or Clinton counties. In other words, I am looking for the northermost white oaks known of NY state. Is there any in the Adirondacks?

I would like to understand how the white oaks in my town established there, on a rocky soil (bed rock of sandstone). Do the seeds come from other oak stands a little southward in the States?

It is a very rare tree here, and very isolated, so I wonder if it is more abundant in these 2 aforementioned counties.

For instance, are there any in the Flat rock state forest? They seem to grow on poor, dry and rocky soils, where competition is less agressive.

I did mesure all the diameters of the white oaks here, so I would also like to do comparison with other stands and share the information.

I already had a suggestion to look along HW 9N towards Au Sable Forks, but I would like other suggestions further north.

If you know some people I should get in touch with, let me know!

Thanks for your help!

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Re: Searching for the northernmost White Oaks of USA

Post by JHarkness » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:07 am


White oaks surprisingly do grow quite a ways north and into cold climates. The river corridors coming out of the Adirondacks do seem to have a lot of them, these sites all on sandy soils where the species competes best, on better soils at these locations there would be red oak mixed in with maple, birch, beech, basswood and ash with the oak disappearing entirely at higher elevations. I've been very impressed with the cold hardiness of white oak, in the lower and mid elevations of the Taconic Mountains there are few, if any naturally occurring white oaks, we have naturally occurring red, chestnut and occasionally chinkapin oak, but most of the white oaks are from planted seed sources. The trees that grow on my property, are mainly short, shrubby and continue to have their branches pruned back by winter storms, I don't think many of them will be around much longer. That said, at high elevation in the southern Taconics, the soils are very poor, sandy and dry, this is great for oaks, gray birch and pitch and red pines. I've personally observed white oak in NY and Massachusetts up to 2,700', on wet sites at this elevation spruces and firs dominate. These sites are also quite plentiful in the southern and central Adirondacks (probably sandy areas of the northern Adirondacks as well), these are mainly on large hills and small mountains with gentle upper slopes and rounded summits, it's very common for mountains that fit that visual profile to have very poor soils in NY, I'm unaware why. Hills like that in and along sandy river corridors in the Adirondacks are probably your best bet for seeing large amounts of naturally growing white oaks, however, chestnut oak sometimes dominates these sites resulting in very few white oaks.

Other than those sites, 9N between Lake Champlain and Jay will be your best bet, there are a lot of white oaks around Ausable Forks but they start disappearing south of there, once you get past Jay they're practically nonexistent. I don't know of any public land there on which you can see them, but a lot of them are visible along the road, mid to late fall would probably be the best time for a drive through as the oaks will likely still have their leaves and will be easy to see from a distance.

Joshua Harkness
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

David L.
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:22 am

Re: Searching for the northernmost White Oaks of USA

Post by David L. » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:25 am

Hi Joshua,

thanks for the tips, I will keep an eye on theses sandy slopes near river corridors. I definitely need to go around Au sable forks. One thing I noted, is that I can access to the state parks for hicking, even camping is allowed for less than 3 days.

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