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Biodiversity Blog


Trees of BFL: Spanish Oak

 Photos: Larry Gilbert

At Brackenridge Field Lab, the Spanish Oaks (Quercus buckleyi) is found mainly in the old pasture zone. This tree is sometimes also called “Texas red oak” or “Buckley’s oak.”

The tree is native to Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It grows on average between 30 to 50 feet tall. The largest known species grows right here in Travis county. The tree is monoecious, meaning it has separate male and female flowers on the same tree.The springtime staminate flowers appear yellow, and are the elongate catkins that give some people allergies this time of year. The pistillate flowers occur singly or in pairs below the twig tips and are brown. It takes two years from the time the flowers appear to the time acorns are fully formed. These acorns are consumed by wildlife.

It was named for Samuel B. Buckley (1809-1884), a botanist who investigated the botany of the southern United States and discovered many new species of plants.  

The bark is black to dark grey with platelike scales, although sometimes the bark is grey and smooth. Their leaves turn bright orange red in the fall, hence the other common name “Texas red oak.” This is one reason it makes a desirable tree in landscapes, also that it is heat and drought tolerant. 

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