Texas is famous for its oak trees. In fact, there are more than 50 varieties native to Texas. Oak trees are important for wildlife because they provide acorns for food, and the large trees provide shelter within their huge branches. Even after an oak tree dies in the wild, it provides shelter as it slowly decays. Some oak trees grow more quickly than others and make good trees for landscaping.
The post oak (Quercus stellata) grows in most parts of Texas and is one of the most important oak trees for wildlife because of the large number of acorns it produces. Post oak trees are not adapted for landscape use because they are difficult to transplant and have a slow growth rate. They often die when the soil around their base is disturbed or compacted. Post oaks prefer dry, sandy soil. They shed their leaves in the fall, and the fall color is brown or red.
Although the live oak (Quercus virginiana) only grows to 50 feet tall, it can spread out up to 100 feet with big limbs reaching the ground in all directions. The limbs of a live oak are strong and thick, and the tree is one of the slower growing varieties of oak trees. Live oaks are long-lived trees. The oldest known specimen in Texas is in Goose Island State Park in Rockport and is more than 1,200 years old. The live oak is a semi-evergreen that sheds its leaves in late winter, but they are immediately replaced with new leaf growth.
The bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is known for its large leaves and big acorns. It is native to grassland prairies of Central and West Texas but is adaptable to most areas of the state. It has a medium growth rate but becomes such a magnificent tree that it is worth the wait. Larger trees have a large tap root that makes it difficult to transplant, so when buying a bur oak tree for planting in the landscape, buy a tree 3 to 5 feet tall. Fall color is brown, and it sometimes holds its dried leaves well into the winter. The bur oak is very drought tolerant once it is established
Shumard Red Oak
The Shumard red oak (Quercus shumardii) grows up to 120 feet tall and 50 feet wide in moist, well-drained soil. Although it is adapted to the eastern third of Texas, it can be planted in the alkaline soils of Central Texas if sufficient moisture is provided. The Shumard red oak has an open habit and the leaves turn a brilliant red and purple in the fall. It is a medium- to fast-growing tree.