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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

Engelmann Oak Planted in Melbourne

In the latest edition of Oak News & Notes, Jo Brennan reported on the successful importation of Quercus engelmannii acorns from California to Australia. Last month, during the 7th Global Botanic Gardens Congress in Melbourne, Australia, the first seedlings from these acorns were planted at the Melbourne Gardens of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV). IOS members Murphy Westwood (Vice President of Science and Conservation at The Morton Arboretum) and Peter Berbee (Arborist and Quercus Collection Curator, RBGV), together with Abby Meyer (BGCI-US Executive Director), joined hands in planting one of the saplings. RBGV plans to donate their excess Q. engelmannii seedlings to other Australian botanic Gardens in Sydney, Blue Mountains, Orange, Warrnambool, and Castlemaine. This will be an experimental trial to see how well they grow in different areas; it will also ensure the species is represented across multiple sites for long-term survival.

Planting Quercus engelmannii
Many hands make light work: a Quercus engelmannii seedling, grown from acorns provided by Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, goes into the ground at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens © Peter Symes

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is conducting some canny climate adaptation planning, trying to anticipate future changes in temperature and rainfall, and planting species that might have a better chance of surviving in them. A 150-year old Quercus alba that collapsed in late 2019 has been replaced by three young oaks that come from warmer climes in North America: Q. rysophylla from Mexico, Q. lobata from California, and Q. nigra from Texas. Quercus canariensis from North Africa is also being considered as an alternative to the traditional Q. robur, one that might be better adapted to a drier climate, according to IOS member Tim Entwistle, Director and Chief Executive of RBGV (more details here).

Quercus engelmannii seedlng planted
Left to right: Murphy Westwood, Abby Meyer, and Peter Berbee with a freshly planted Engelmann oak © Peter Symes

During the 7th Global Botanic Gardens Congress, RBGV launched a Climate Assessment Tool that allows botanic gardens around the world to determine which tree species will thrive in their region, based on the predicted climate in the future. Read more about this project and RBGV’s climate planning here.