In late winter as we wait out the cold until spring arrives, we are always seeking out any signs of greener days. Evergreen trees can offer that hint of the growth to come that we lean on to get us through those grey days of winter. When we think of evergreen trees we often think of pines or cedars, but one species that is often overlooked or forgotten about is the live oak—more specifically in Oklahoma, the escarpment live oak.
Escarpment live oak, Quercus fusiformis, may look like just an ordinary oak during the summer months, but as the other oak species lose their leaves for the winter the escarpment live oak begins to shine. The gnarled branches of this tree combined with its ovate 1-3 inch evergreen leaves provide the perfect shelter for birds during the winter and a great spot for nesting come spring time. Escarpment live oak has an acorn that is approximately ¾ to 1 inch long. This “Oklahoma Proven Tree” is native to southern Oklahoma and its range extends south to northern Mexico. The escarpment live oak grows slowly, achieving a height of up to 40 feet and becoming just as wide, making it a great specimen tree for urban areas.
Escarpment live oak is well adapted to drought as well as cold, which makes it a perfect tree for Oklahoma. To see one of these trees for yourself, visit Bickham-Rudkin Park. There is a large specimen located by the pavilion, and some younger examples are also growing within the Margaret Annis Boys Centennial Arboretum located at the south end of the park. Quercus fusiformis can be found just south of the bridge in the arboretum on the north side of the trail.