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April Moore: In celebration of the mighty oak

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With Arbor Day this Friday, April 30, I am thinking about an incredible tree: the oak.

A single oak tree can nurture more life-forms than any other tree in North America.  Birds, many mammals, even bears, and insects, spiders, and hundreds of species of caterpillar, all rely on the oak tree.  And we humans enjoy the beauty and shade an oak tree adds to our yard.

“There is so much going on in your yard that would not be going on if you did not have one or more oaks gracing your piece of planet earth,” writes entomologist Douglas Tallamy in his book, The Nature of Oaks:  the Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees.

The oak is a superstar among trees.  Its acorns provide protein, fat, and carbohydrate for many animals.  Fallen leaves form habitat for beneficial organisms, and the tree’s canopy and root system are key to water filtration and purification.  These long-lived trees also sequester carbon.

If you don’t already have an oak tree in your yard, Dr. Tallamy highly recommends that you add one.  For best results, Tallamy suggests simply planting an acorn or encouraging a sapling volunteer by constructing a fence around it.

Story by April Moore


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