Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 120 days , or until radicle emergence
Germination: sow 1" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed
Other: fall sowing in mulched beds is prefered to artificial stratification
Quercus ilicifolia, also known as Bear Oak or Scrub Oak, is a small shrubby oak native to the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. It is a deciduous tree or shrub that reaches a height of up to 8 meters, although it is usually much smaller. The plant has a gangly appearance and can form a dense thicket.
One of the notable features of Quercus ilicifolia is its large taproot, which can be up to 20 centimeters thick. This taproot lives for a long time, producing several generations of aboveground parts. The plant also has alternately arranged leaves that are up to 15 centimeters long and 10 centimeters wide.
Quercus ilicifolia is a dominant plant species in various regions and habitat types. In Maine, it can be found in deciduous forests alongside other trees such as red maple, gray birch, and quaking aspen. In Massachusetts, it is often found with black huckleberry on the shrublands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. On Cape Cod, it occurs alongside pitch pine and broom crowberry. It can also be found in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and on Long Island in pine barrens habitats. In addition, it grows in fire barrens on granite and gneiss in Canada.
This oak species is adapted to disturbance in its habitat, such as wildfires. It does not tolerate shade and requires disturbance to clear away other plant species so it can receive sunlight. It is known to sprout prolifically after fire burns away its aboveground parts.
Quercus ilicifolia provides food and shelter for many animal species. Bears consume the acorns, especially when preparing for hibernation. White-tailed deer also eat the acorns, as well as the stems and foliage. Many types of squirrels cache the acorns, and many birds, including wild turkeys, depend on them. The oak is also home to a large number of insect species, and it serves as the main food plant for 29% of rare or endangered Lepidopterans in southern New England and southeastern New York.
This oak species has even been used in revegetation projects, such as on the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. It is also known to rocky summits in the Piedmont of North Carolina, where it is listed as a State Endangered Plant.
Overall, Quercus ilicifolia is a fascinating and important plant species that plays a crucial role in various ecosystems by providing food and shelter for numerous animal species.