Hundreds of people pass by every day in cars, vans, and trucks, along with motorized and pedal powered cyclists. On their way to and from school, children walk right by it in all seasons. With branches that extend across the centre line, this arboreal giant is familiar to everyone travelling along Ottawa Street in Almonte. Heading up the hill, it’s on the right side, next door to 259, and across the street from 254, just a way past Marshall Street on the left.
Root growth extends well beyond the spread of a tree’s canopy at maturity. Some tree professionals recommend planning for root growth that’s up to 3 times canopy size. From photo evidence, the canopy of this roadside sentinel has reached about 23 m / 72 ft in breadth.
Burr oak, named for its acorn’s bur-like fringed cap, is the most wide-ranging of Canada’s 11 indigenous species. It ranges from the Acadian forest of New Brunswick across the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence region to Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Quercus macrocarpa is its Latin name. Quercus is derived from the Celtic language and means ‘tree above all others’. Macrocarpa is from the Greek ‘makros’, meaning large, and ‘karpos’, meaning fruit. Acorns of the burr oak are the largest of our native oaks.
The largest burr oak recorded in Ontario was located in 1984 at Burfort Township in Brant County with a trunk diameter of 2.12 m / 6.95 ft. Burr oaks can grow up to 30 m / 98 ft tall. As one of the most massive oaks, they’re also one of the slowest growing. Burr oaks commonly live 200 to 300 years, with some reaching the mature age of 4 or more centuries. Back in the 1990s, a tree ring count on a felled oak only a few miles from downtown Almonte revealed that it was just over 500 years old.
Do you have a notable or favourite tree? Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles. You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <email@example.com>, or Neil Carleton, 3 Argyle Street, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0. I look forward to hearing from you.
My volunteer columns started in March 2010, as print features, to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee. The contact for the Tree Committee is Ron Ayling, 613-804-4617. In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.
Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with shady characters.
Photos: © Neil Carleton