Want to keep up with the latest news in commercial horticulture? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Chestnut oak’s bark. Photo (c) 2002 Steven J. Baskauf

Chestnut oak’s bark. Photo (c) 2002 Steven J. Baskauf

Society of Municipal Arborists Announces its 2017 Urban Tree of the Year
The 2017 SMA Urban Tree of the Year is native to much of the Eastern United States. Hikers from New York to Tennessee who ascend to dry ridges will often see the deeply furrowed, blocky barked trunks of chestnut oak (Quercus montana) (syn. Q. prinus). The bark is so distinctive, it may be the only ID feature one needs. There’s growing interest in using chestnut oak in the urban environment because it is pH-adaptable, handles dry soils and periods of drought, has a beautiful mature form, requires minimal pruning, and tends to be free of major pests and diseases.

The common name “chestnut oak” owes to the leaves looking like those of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) and indeed both are members of the beech family, Fagaceae. Other common names for chestnut oak include rock oak, rock chestnut oak, or mountain oak—referring to its customary sighting in dry, rocky soils on ridgetops, where it has a competitive advantage. However, if chestnut oak is open-grown in the moist, well-drained soil that all trees dream about, it will be significantly bigger than its scrappy ridgetop cousins. Typically it reaches 50 to 70 feet (15 to 21 m) tall and almost as wide. It’s hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8 and prefers full sun.

Natorp’s Nursery Joins with Bower & Branch
Bower & Branch has announced that it would add The Wm. A. Natorp Company (Natorp’s Nursery) as a grower member. Natorp’s Nursery joins Eaton Farms as a Bower & Branch licensed member grower and adds a wider selection of specialty trees, perennials and ornamental grasses to expand the current selection of more than 370 tree and topiary varieties available online and through all members.