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Our photographers have been busy exploring the intricacies of the Missouri outdoors. See if you can guess this month’s natural wonder.

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Image of a black oak leaf

Black Oak

Quercus velutina
Famed botanical author Donald Culross Peattie admitted that, when judged by ornamental and lumbering value, black oak lacks "benign grace" and "seems to have few civic or domestic associations." But, he pointed out, "as a forest tree, as part of the hard, untamed, original sylva, it has a rough, unbending grandeur of its own."

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blackjack oak

Blackjack Oak

Quercus marilandica
Blackjack oak is a common timber tree in forests that have been badly burned or are growing on the poorest soils. Considered a relatively worthless tree, this oak is often one of the first trees to be used as fuel, which prevents more glorious trees from such destruction.

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bur oak tree

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa
Among the many majestic American oaks with legendary and historic value, McBaine, Missouri's state champion bur oak has a 91-inch-diameter trunk, is over three hundred years old, and survived the flood of 1993. Recently, specialists have been fertilizing and aerating its soil, carefully pruning it, and taking twig samples in order to preserve its extraordinary genetic line.

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Image of a cherrybark oak leaf

Cherrybark Oak

Quercus pagoda
The bark of this tree, as the name suggests, looks like the bark of a cherry tree. The species name starts to make sense when you hold one of the leaves with the leaf stalk upward: The pointed lobes make the leaf resemble an outline of a Chinese pagoda. Look for it in Missouri's Bootheel counties.

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Chinkapin Oak

Chinkapin Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii
This attractive tree is fairly easy to identify because of its distinctively toothed leaves. It has edible acorns and valuable wood. Look for it growing in rocky soils derived from limestone or dolomite on bluffs and in upland woods. It is also found in floodplain forests and lower slopes along streams.

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Dwarf Chestnut Oak

Quercus prinoides
Although only 3–10 feet tall, and the shortest of Missouri's oaks, this shrub or small tree can nevertheless produce abundant acorns that are relished by several types of birds and mammals.

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Closeup view of green pin oak leaves

Flash In The Pin

In the last month we collected data in the timber at Duck Creek, Mingo and a few of our other forested conservation areas in Southeast Missouri. While I was out there, I saw something that caught my eye.

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Leaves affected by jumping oak gall.

Jumping Oak Galls, Batman!

Missourians from St. Louis to Table Rock Lake are reporting a strange condition on the leaves of oak trees.

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