Friday, May 25, 2012

From biggest oak to smallest oak

Photo by Barry Wallace
Chinkapin Oak
Quercus muehlenbergii
The day after I blogged about the mammoth Burl Oak at Humber Trails Forest & Wildlife Area, west of the Mill Road, at King Creek, I happened to meet a young employee of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority who told me he was meeting, that very day, with a resident of King Creek and a York Region employee to view the Bur Oak with an intention of getting the tree officially designated as a York Region Heritage Tree.   Great news!   This is exactly what should happen to this magnificent specimen.   I had a very pleasant chat with the young TRCA staffer and went upon my way, completely forgetting to mentioned to him that I had also spotted a young Chinkapin Oak not far from the Bur Oak.   Lake Ontario is the northern limit for the Chinkapin.   It reaches Hamilton at the west end of Lake Ontario and Kingston at the east end of the lake.   The area in between, on the north side of the lake, is not supposed to have Chinkapin Oaks.   But there is a small, young one directly north of Toronto, in southern King Township, near the banks of the East Humber River (see photo above).   The Chinkapin is also known as the Chinquapin Oak.   Chinquapin is very close to the Virginian Algonquin Indian name for the tree's nut.   According to Wikipedia: "The Chinkapin Oak is especially known for its sweet and palatable acorns.   Indeed, the nuts contained inside of the thin shell are among the sweetest of any oak, with an excellent taste even when eaten raw, providing an excellent source of food for both wildlife and people".   And while this Chinkapin is small today, it can grow to 50' in height (some have grown 160' in the US.)
Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace      

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