I’ve driven past this tree almost daily, a few blocks from my abode.

UTEP’s Juan Blanco told me about this tree, and how our far-out west Texas urban forester, Oscar Mestas, has more details. Richard Burges planted this oak in 1915, after building his house. A former Texas state legislator, originally from Seguin, he introduced the bill to form the Texas A&M Forest Service

There’s more – herePhotos from 1/3/2014 –

Escarpment or Texas Live Oak / Quercus fusiformis

Proof-positive some oaks don’t need rich, chocolate cake soil…this is arid, rocky and alkaline El Paso; not fertile soils ala Fargo or the Blackland Prairie. This tree does have irrigation, but nothing like riparian cottonwoods thirst after with age.

stately form and structure against our sky…

I don’t know if this tree was brought in from California, but it’s most definitely not a Coast Live Oak / Quercus agrifolia. (form, bark, foliage, acorns, …)

Contrary to the above link, I agree with another speculation – that Burges brought this tree with him from the live oak epicenter (and brisket belt) of central Texas, since he was in Austin while in the Texas State Legislature. Though, live oaks growing wild in hot, dry valleys and canyons in inland California were more proof they could be used in desert gardens.

You might recall my photos of different live oaks from nearby foothills.

eat your hearts out, cottonwoods, Bradford pears or ashes…

No wonder others and I specify this winner in regional landscapes!

companion plants – a slope of Trailing Rosemary / R. officianalis ‘Prostrata’…
a small, irrigated lawn on top, downtown just beyond on this chilly day…
bark far too rough and dark for Q. agrifolia…just right for Q. fusiformis…did I say that’s some incredible form and structure?
the leaves are not spiny-margined like the Golden State’s oak, but just like what I’ve seen deep in the heart of…the Lone Star State…no acorns, though.


Unlike humid central Texas, this oak has no ball moss growing on its branches. With the combination of smog and dry air here, no lichens are evident, either. But you get the idea.

I’ll try to dig up some old photos, or take some new ones, of a few species of common live oaks in southern California or San Diego.


5 Replies to “Stately”

  1. We have a live oak in the back garden, probably planted about 20 years ago. Huge now. The rock squirrels love the acorns! It is full of birds most of the time. It’s a wonderful tree.

    I like their form with just a little pruning, but without, a big tangle…most in NM / El Paso become turned into topiary. Thanks for visiting!


  2. I love a big oak. It’s interesting that the roots of your example don’t seem to have disturbed the wall – or vice versa. If you join us this summer, you’ll see our native White Oak, Quercus garryana in the valley. It’s another beauty.

    This species has deep roots, and I think their soil is deep alluvial, gravelly. I hope to go – Q. garryana are nice, Desert NW even posted pics of some interior by Yakima!


  3. You can see solitary Q. fusiformis specimens which survived our recent drought are standing in the driest pastures west of here. The leaves look about right although a closer comparison is needed.

    I can’t imagine why a state legislator from Seguin who wanted to preserve Texas forests would bring a tree from CA.

    That’s amazing those survived, as some Ashe Juniper died E of you…and many died W of K-ville. Maybe my forester friend has leaf or acorn pics? Great point on why he would use a tree from your locale, knowing those extremes.


  4. Gorgeous tree, David. There’s a small Q. fusiformis at the Idaho Botanical Garden that’s enduring it’s 4th or 5th winter. Who knows, maybe in a hundred years it’ll look like this one?? There’s also a Q. turbinella up there that looks a bit less freeze dried.

    I knew this tree was up your alley. I hear they do well in Grand Jct and Salt Lake (you know, z5…not). Ours grow 18-24″/yr once established w/ drip irrigation. There are some tough, SW / Cal oaks to try there…I bet every native oak here will work.


  5. Oak Trees almost always seem to have beautiful form as they get older, don’t they. I would never have guessed that was an Oak from the leaves, however!

    Incredible form of that hard wood! I must post on diff. live oak leaves…some do well in PNW.


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