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The Oaks

oak, tree, time, species and wood

THE OAKS 'The Briton can in better than he can tell Ids love for the oak. It is a passion, strong and deep, come down to him by inheritance from his Druid ancestors. Centuries have not abated the intensity of his feeline'; they have but softened and rational ized it. AlThat, the English oak means to the Englishman, the white ()al: means to the ..\inerican. Each embod ies the spirit of the oal: family. Look out at a full grown tree as it stands bare aLrainst the winter sl:v. How full of character are all its lineaments! There are balance 7iiill stability in the flare of its broad base ; there are strength and independence in the reach of its mightv arms. Out of life lon' strug(•es have come the rugged ness of its branches and the fine svninietry of its broad dome. In its \ vhule aspect are breadth and toler ance—the dignity of a patriarch, the majesty of a ling. wonder that the oak appeals to the Anglo-Saxon ! Are these not, traits of the Anglo-Saxon character—force, independence, steadfastness? All peoples lin Ve worshiped tl:e oak. The (4 reel:s dedicated it. to Zeus. It was the tree of knowledge by which Socrates swore. The impressionable IZoinans lifted upon it Ay() rsh p fill eyes, and the stolid Teutons regarded it with equal veneration. There is stone of the old pagan in each one of us, I think, fur when we look 'Ilion a giant oak, a feeling of a \\* e and reverence possesses us.

Remarkably long is the life span of the oak. It reaches across the turies. Individual trees are still standing that are know-n to be a sand years uld. Tradition says that some have attained twice that age. Oaks are framed for longevity, with great breadth of top and wide range of roots. The strength and tenacity of their fibers fit them to cope with storms. Twenty years they grow before they bear acorn, and rarely is a tree fit for lumber until it is a century old. The wood of most oaks has a timber value. In its annual rings the dark, porous spring wood alternates with the pale, horny sum mer wood. The broad, gleaming ‘• mirrors" of the medullary rays make it one of the valuable orna mental woods. Wherever durability and strength are required, oak lum ber is in great demand. Pity 't is

that the supply has dwindled so by reason of our Ivastefuluess in the management of forest lands.

The oaks compose the genus Querens. They belong to the great natural family of the eup-bea•ers. Among their relatives aro the, chestnut and the beech. Qnereus is set apart from the others by one distinguishing trait : oaks _ _ 1)__ f__ r near acorns. -- tnetr trims ye shall 1:now them." 'There aro about three hundred species of oaks. Fifty occur in .1North America ; twenty or more east of the .Mississippi river. New varieties are behig listed from time to time, for oaks intereross. Hybrids are produced by exchange of pollen between closely related species. For instance, \ vliite and bur oaks intercross, producing offspring that differ either parent, but show characteristics of both. Oak forests sln,w many trees for which the botanist has no nme. The significance of these facts is that the oaks are a comparatively new family tqwm the earth. The inevital de stru gle for existence will permit the fittest only to survive, forms will disappear, and in the far distant, future time species of the oak may be as distinct, and perhaps as few, as now exist the beeches and chestnuts.

The leaves of oaks vary greatly among the different species, and even upon a given tree. Yet one 1611 rarely confuse them with time leaves of other trees. They are simple, alternate, and usually The flowers are distinct, both sorts on the same tree. The loose stami nate catkins hang in clustered, pendulous fringes at the base of the season's shoot. The pistillate flowers are solitary or few in the arils of the new leaves.

The oaks fail into two great natural divisions—the aanuals and biennials. The annuals mature their acorns in a single season ; the biennials require two seasons. The annuals have only eurved lines in the margins of their leave:: the biennials have their lobes ending in angles and bristly points. Types ( f the first group are the Nvhite, btu• and chestnut oaks. Types of the second group are the black, red and pin oaks. They are known as the White Oak and Mack Oak groups.