This map depicts the bur oak's North American natural distribution as of 1971. Bur oaks are extremely cold-temperature-tolerant, drought-resistant, and can occupy a brand range of moisture regimes and soil conditions. However, the abundance of bur oak in the highlighted area has decreased dramatically in recent years. Within North America, the bur oak was commonly found at elevations of less than 3,300 feet, but had the ability to survive at a large range of climates and soil conditions. The bur oak can be found in moist woodlands, prairies, sandhills, etc. However, bur oak size and growth may vary based on the conditions of the environment. Since the bur oak is one of the most cold tolerant trees in the oak species, they can be found in the northern US states such as Ohio, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Meanwhile, the bur oak can tolerate poor, dry soils as well as wet, inundated soils. Overall, the bur oak is a dominant tree in the Great Plains and Great Lakes region.
Origin, history, and uses:
The bur oak was given its name because the cup of the bur oak acorn bears a resemblance to the bur of a chestnut. Bur oak were plentiful within the North American range, but its presence in the region dramatically decreased after the settlement of Europeans. Bur Oak savannas in the Midwest and Great Plains were ideal sites for the European settlers because the bur oak provided sources of wood to be used for homes and fuel. In addition, bur oak wood was used as forage for livestock. As a result of agricultural and urban development, there was a widespread loss of the bur oak savanna ecosystem. In the early 1900s, it was estimated that 32 million acres of oak savannahs existed in the Midwest. As of 1985, there are only 6,400 acres that remain.
The bur oak serves as a food serve for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbits, racoons, and rodents among others. As the bur oak reaches maturity, the tree can provide nesting for numerous species of birds. In addition, the bur oak is often used as material for cabinets, flooring, and barrels due to its durability.
The Bur oak is deciduous, shedding its leaves each Fall and blossoming in the late Spring into early Summer. Pollination occurs during this time, with acorn formation happening in later Summer into Fall, in most but not all years in the masting process. Acorns take a year to mature, typically germinating in the following Fall.