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Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:15 pm
by Matt Markworth

I have started a spreadsheet focused solely on the mighty bur oak (requires login):

Included are my own measurements, along with measurements that have been posted on the various NTS sites. The list currently stands at 50 trees. I may have missed some trees, so please review the list and let me know if you've measured any other bur oaks. The list is currently sorted by measurer. Please let me know if you have additional information for the various fields in the list.

Here are the fields included in the list:

Form (Forest-grown or Open-grown)
CBH (ft)
Height (ft)
Average Spread (ft)
Reference (with a link to the original report)
Photo Links

The second tab of the spreadsheet shows the long-term goal:
bur oak database - goal.JPG
I can think of at least 4 sites close to me that have bur oaks, so the list will be expanding soon. Please let me know if you have additional trees as well. Thanks!

A nicely formed bur oak in Warren County, OH:
Bur Oak Database.jpg

Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:15 am
by Joe
quick question- is Bur Oak a common species? Is it rare and endangered? I'll explain why I ask this question once I get an answer.

Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:20 am
by dbhguru

No, bur oak is not rare or endangered when taken acrossits full range. Locally, here in Massachusetts it is very rare.


Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:49 am
by Matt Markworth

In my area (SW OH) it's not very abundant, however the importance value maps indicate that it plays a much bigger role in the Upper Midwest. The species itself isn't endangered, but only small remnants remain from the once extensive bur oak savannas of the Midwest. Agriculture use and fire suppression are big contributors to the decline. Bur oaks also play an important role in the woodland pastures of the Bluegrass and the Nashville Basin, with development and lack of regeneration being some of the contributors to the decline.


Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:09 am
by Joe
dbhguru wrote:Joe

No, bur oak is not rare or endangered when taken acrossits full range. Locally, here in Massachusetts it is very rare.

Bob and Matt,

I think Bob knows why I asked this - but-- Mass. has a Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program which has near dictatorial powers over forestry and any land development. I've been battling this agency for years- not that I want to lose species but, the agency is seriously lacking in common sense. In 2001 I was managing a timber sale in the SW corner of Mass. where bur oak is present. On a 200 acre timber sale- there was, maybe, 50 specimens of bur oak. I had marked a few of the weakest bur oaks- to benefit the better ones next to them. That agency swooped in and said I MUST NEVER CUT A BUR OAK (and also chinquapin oak, which also has a small number of specimens on the property). I met with the agency botanist on the property. I argued that the species is common south and west of the area. He argued that "since the species here is near the edge of its range- we want to protect it if the climate moves north". OK, I said, "that's a nice concept- BUT- your mandate is protecting rare and endangered species- NOT- planning for the movement of species due to climate change- THUS- you should back off this DEMAND." But NO, he said I needed to go back on that acreage and UNMARK all the bur and chinquapin oaks- which meant a couple of days of work! I'm still burned over this- the first of many such idiotic demands by that agency.

In general, most foresters and loggers truly hate all environmentalists who put roadblocks on their work- I've always been different, finding few problems with environmental groups- it always seemed to me that their complaints about the enviros were misplaced- that in fact, much of the work they did was poor quality so they should look in the mirror, not fight enviros. But here, some enviro crazies took over a state agency and behave like tyrants.

So, that's why I wanted to know if bur oak is a common species.

Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:43 am
by ElijahW

Those midwest bur oaks are monsters, especially the ones from Beall Woods and Big Oak Tree. I've seen the numbers before, but I'll have to see them in person someday.

I can add a couple of trees I've measured to your database from NY:

Bur oak Form CBH Height Spread Site Last measured

Open 12'3" 74.7' Not measured Willard Memorial Chapel, Auburn, NY 5/20/2012

Forest 7'9" 102.0' Not measured Howland's Island, Savannah, NY 7/2/2011

Forest Not measured 102.0' Not measured Fuertes Bird Sanctuary, Ithaca, NY 7/6/2014 (Tom Howard and I)

Keep up the good work,


Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 11:26 am
by tclikesbigtrees
There is a big Bur Oak in Lancaster County, PA that I have photographed. I think John Harvey has measured it.


Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:17 pm
by DougBidlack

I love your list. Oaks are my favorite Genus and bur oaks are my personal favorite among the oaks. I have measured some bur oaks but all of my height measurements have been by shooting straight-up. I wonder if you could include a separate field for 'Measurement Method' to differentiate between 'sine' and 'straight-up' measurements.


Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:19 pm
by Matt Markworth

Awesome, thanks! I'm hoping to get specimens added from across the range of the species, so it's great to see more from NY. I'll add them into the list.


Good photo, thanks for sharing!


Great idea. I can indicate that any straight up laser measurements are not less than (nlt). If you have measurements for some of the great oaks that you've visited that would be very cool.


Re: Bur Oak Database

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:56 am
by bbeduhn
I have just one for you.

Bur Oak 117.7' 1/5/13

Biltmore Estate, near visitor center
Asheville, NC

This is the NC state champ, listed at 140' in height.