Quercus asphaltus or growing 31 varieties of potted oak trees in my Miami warehouse parking lot!

Lee Sinoff


Growing up in Jacksonville but living in Miami since 1977, I miss the stately, majestic, sweeping oak trees that fill northern, central, and western Florida. A serious 'gardening hobbyist,' I 'pick up' whatever catches my eye. In October 1996, I picked up acorns from a large oak in North Carolina and brought them to Miami. The acorns sprouted in pots in my ware house parking lot. The next year, in Jacksonville for New Year's, I picked up acorns and sprouted them in Miami. Intrigued with the Quercus family, I began to investigate while 'shielding' seedlings somewhat from the intense tropical sun. There are approximately 450-500 Quercus species. Sixteen grow in northern, northwestern and central Florida, but only two can grow in southern Florida (Live Oak and Laurel Oak). In 1998,1 found an Internet seller offering 28 varieties of acorns from around the world, in small packets for $3.50 each. The first year I bought 14 varieties. Many sprouted. The next year I ordered others; again, many sprouted. Also in 1999, I hand-carried seven different bare-root oak seedlings from Maine (ordered from Pennsylvania) to Miami. Today, about 31 varieties of potted oaks are growing in that parking lot—actually, about 170 oak treelets among a total of 400+ potted plants and trees. The tallest, one of the original Jacksonville sprouts, is about 10 feet. Three varieties that stand out are the English Oak (Q. robur), California Black Oak (Q. kelloggii), and Burr Oak (Q. macrocarpa). My trees have two growing seasons, separated by a long 'survival' season.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283