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March Big Tree of the Month White Oak

The featured big tree this month is the 400-year-old white oak that was growing in Wye Oak State Park in Maryland.

The community worked together to preserve and care for this massive and historic tree. It survived development, environmental stresses and more until a storm in 2002 brought its life to an end.  A sapling propagated from the tree was planted in its place to honor this first citizen of Maryland.

White oaks are native from Maine to Florida and west to Minnesota and Texas.  They thrive in full sun, deep moist well-drained slightly acid soil and are easily damaged during construction of buildings, roads and walks.  We use the wood to make furniture, flooring, boats, whisky barrels and wine casks.  And their acorns feed the birds and mammals and a variety of butterflies start their lives as caterpillars feeding on their leaves.

A bit more information: Ripe white oak acorns (lower in tannins than members of the red oak family) are edible, but taste best when roasted or boiled and dried. You can eat the nut plain, dipped in syrup to make a candy, or ground into a flour.

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