Natural Hybrid Oaks are Naturally Superior

Natural Hybrid Oaks are Naturally Superior

Oaks are strong, long-lived, and part of the American culture. In North America, there are hundreds of oak species. This is due to their ability to cross-pollinate or hybridize.

This trait allows them to adapt and thrive in various microclimates. See a native tree nursery for types of plants. It has also allowed the oak to dominate Midwest forests as a climax species.


Oaks provide food for a broad variety of wildlife. Besides their acorns and nuts, they attract protein-rich insects vital to songbird reproduction. Their dense and sturdy branching offers safe cover and nesting. A mixed herbaceous understory thrives in the vibrant soil under their dense canopy.

But, as maple and beech understory increases, forest biodiversity declines. This has a direct correlation to reduced insect and bird populations and soil erosion.  American entomologist and conservationist Douglas Tallamy once said, “If you only plant one tree, let it be an oak.” 

A native tree nursery can produce a wide array of native oak tree options. There are 39 species of oak, including several natural hybrids.  In fact, over the past three decades, the oak genus has become a primary favorite. 


A hybrid benefits from the combined traits of two or more species. Hybrids continue to produce fertile offspring with ‘hybrid vigor’. Many white oak hybrids offer advantages like faster growth and heavier acorn crops. Some produce earlier crops or larger acorns.

Characteristics like these benefit wildlife. RPM seedlings grow faster up to Seven feet or more in their first growing season. This can increase tree survival and speed mast production on conservation plantings. All oaks tend to be disease and insect-resistant. However, hybrids offer greater resistance and natural vigor. This resistance is one reason to choose to work with oak hybrids.

Oak Cultivars

“‘Quercus x ‘Jillian Anne Young’ is a favorite native oak cultivar,” said Kim Hainsfurther. Named in honor of Kim’s late daughter, Jillian, it is one of the white oaks selected for the MU Legacy Oaks project. ‘Jillian’ joins about a dozen other native oak cultivars for the project. This project is maturing trees to replace the old pin oaks on UMC’s Francis Quadrangle. Like other Midwest oak trees, the ‘Jillian’ is long-lived—as much as 300 years.

Another popular oak cultivar is the Quercus shumardii hybrid. This is a natural cross between the Shumard and an unknown oak. It produces an abundant annual acorn crop and is fast-growing. In fall, its foliage turns deep red. 

Native Tree Nursery Hybrids

Two natural hybrid bur and swamp white oak crosses are exceptional for wildlife. Kimberley (Quercus x schuettei ‘Kimberley’) and Schuette (Quercus x schuettei). Each species offers prolific, sweet acorn production relished by deer. Both grow well in wet soils, which makes them perfect for bottomland restoration. 

Use a native tree Nursery for help in conservation and environmental restoration. A native tree nursery located in the United States can grow over 400 species and produce 1.5 million plants. Oaks support more life forms than any other North American tree genus, providing food and protection for a variety of animal life, including birds

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