Columnar Oak Characteristics

Asked November 1, 2018, 3:18 PM EDT

If I select “Kindred Spirit” Oak trees for a screen in a modern, residential landscape design: 1-how many years will the trees retain their leaves through the fall/winter? (I heard these oaks retain leaves while they young, but then, they live 150 years - how long is young?) 2-does this oak have acorns? How many on a scale from excessive to inconsequential? 3- are there any other columnar oak varieties I might consider?(wants: columnar, screen, retain leaves, native, pretty) Thanks!

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

Tree experts with extensive experience breeding or curating oaks are probably better qualified to answer your somewhat specialized questions than most master gardeners. So, if what follows is not sufficient, we recommend directing your question to staff at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

1. It's true that "juvenile" oaks of several species are more likely to retain their leaves in winter than their mature counterparts. However, a number of variables such as individual genetic characteristics, weather patterns and growing conditions can affect this trait. Consequently, it's difficult to predict whether, when and to what extent a Kindred Spirit oak might fail to hold its leaves in winter.

2. Kindred Spirit oak does bear acorns. According to experts at the University of Missouri, individual oak trees usually take about 30 years before they produce acorns. After that, mast crops are extremely variable. A year of many acorns may be followed by another or more often by one to several years with few or none. The variability in acorn production is often a result of poor pollination, late spring frosts or drought.

3. Crimson Spire is mentioned more often for its winter leaf retention than Kindred Spirit. Most columnar oaks are hybrids of English Oak (Quercus robur) and native white and swamp white oaks. Kindred Spirit is one of these so, technically, it is not native. Other variety names that come up in this context include Sky Rocket and Regal Prince. Streetspire is another but it does not retain leaves.

The following information may be useful: