Oak trees have the gall to confuse columnist

Red oak leaves, left, have jagged edges. The leaf is well-defined with sharp angles. In comparison, the white oak leaf, right, has rounded edges. Both types of trees produced acorns, however, deer, squirrels and other woodland animals prefer those from white oaks.

If there is one thing I hate in life, it’s making a mistake. Unfortunately, I make them quite often.

Last week, I wrote a beautiful article about Ed Lipp’s galls on his white oak tree. Since I did not take photos the first time I was there, I went back a week later to take some for the article. The galls were gone. I’m betting that Ed’s wife, Marty, told him to get off the back porch swing, where I usually find him, and clean up the driveway. He did a good job!

This left me with one other option. I found a photo on the internet showing the galls, and send it to the News. The caption under the photo read, “Fuzzy galls attached to white oak leaves.”

I’m betting that 99.9% of you, including myself, never realized that it was a red oak leaf in the photo, not a white oak leaf.

There was one person who did notice. Ed Petrus knows his oaks, and sent me a message concerning my mistake. Thank you Ed for bringing this to my attention. I was probably more concerned about the galls, and never noticed the leaf.

Oaks are in the beech family (Fagaceae), which include beeches, chestnuts, and oaks. The oak family is called quercus, which, when translated, means oaks. Whoever named them, I’m sure, gave this a lot of thought.

The oak trees are divided into two divisions, white oak and red oak.

The white oak tree has a ashy-gray colored bark. The vertical scales are rectangular, and not very deep. The leaves on the white oak, have rounded tips, as Ed pointed out to me.

Red oak leaves are pointed at the end, instead of rounded. The bark is much darker, sometimes almost black. The furrows are deeper on the red oak than on the white oak.

If you are a hunter, and are not aware of the difference between the oaks, pay close attention to the following remarks. Ralph Martone, former News outdoor writer, probably knew this, but never felt the need to share it with me over an eggnog at Joan and Bruce Aikens’ house on Christmas Eves past.

The acorns from the white oaks are better tasting than the acorns from the red oaks. Squirrels, turkeys, and deer will graze around the outer end branches of the white oak tree, where the acorns have fallen to the ground. Find a white oak, become invisible, and wait for them to arrive for their snack. You will have enough dinner meat for the next year.

The acorns from the red oak are hairy inside and bitter tasting. The animals only eat them if they can’t find anything else. The white oak acorns have no hair, just like the way I’m starting to get.

Another good place to hunt deer would be my back yard, near what used to be my hostas. Since my neighbor had five oak trees cut down, my hostas seem to be the new go-to snack.

I do have some Bonide Repels All in the garage, which is suppose to work, but I just let the deer remove the leaves before I have to mow them down. This way, it doesn’t cost me anything. I just wish they would eat my fall leaves, too.

I think one of the biggest mistakes I ever made was driving to a motel in Kentucky.

My wife was urging me to hurry up because she wanted to use their facilities as soon as possible. I mistook the entrance to the hotel for the on-ramp to the freeway, and ended up driving to Greenup, Kentucky, 15 miles down the road.

I think she still tries to get revenge for that by lingering in the bathroom when I’m in dire need.

Make your space a green space.

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