During an inventory conducted in 2019 – 2020, 211 oak of more than 90 cm in diameter at breast height were enumerated in the parc du Mont-Royal.
Since always, they serve to build as much as dream… In this summer series, The Duty attempts to identify what wood they are made out of trees that surround us. Today : the red oak.
The oldest witnesses still alive from the birth of the parc du Mont-Royal are of red oak bicentenaries to the massive body, the bark dug deep wrinkles and waist slender to the sky, which dominate the canopy of the forest of the massif.
“The red oak is sort of the iconic species of mount Royal, as we find an oak grove on each of the three vertices [top of mont Royal, Outremont summit and summit Westmount] “, underscores Eric Richard, scientific advisor to Friends of the mountain.
“These oak woodlands cover the majority of the surface area of the three peaks, is the highest sectors “, which is not surprising, according to Richard, because ” we often find, of the oaks at the top of the mountains where the soil is thin, and where the rain water drains rapidly, the oak is well-adapted to drought “.
During an inventory carried out in 2019-2020, 211 oak of more than 90 cm in diameter at breast height were enumerated in the parc du Mont-Royal and a fifty on the Outremont summit. The largest specimen is 127 cm in diameter and a circumference of about 400 cm. It is probably the age of nearly 200 years. The oak and the maple are species that can live 300 years, ” said Mr. Richard.
Photo: Wikimedia CC
The red oak (Quercus rubra). Illustration from History of forest trees on the northern, by François André Michaux.
If red oak also big aged almost 200 years, populate a good part of the forest of mount Royal, it is that they have escaped the “cuts” morality ” ordered by mayor Jean Drapeau in the 1950s, during which all the trees of small size (diameter less than one meter) were slaughtered. Devastating, particularly for the diversity of the forest, these cuts have probably favored the oaks, ahead of Richard. “To reduce the erosion that they have trained, we had to plant by the result of nearly 60,000 trees. It has favoured fast-growing species or who have roots that hold the soil well, like pine trees, spruces and maples and Norway, which were not necessarily an environmentally friendly choice, because it was not of the species that would have pushed naturally here, ” he remarked.
“The oak is a tree quite common, but which is at its northern limit in the valley of the St. Lawrence river. It is rare that one finds red oak in the Laurentians, but one can imagine that with climate change, they will still be more comfortable in Quebec and occupy habitats more great, “says Mr. Richard, noting that,” probably because of their more northern red oak of mount Royal are much less high than those of Central Park, New York “.
Fragile, but useful
In the oak woods of mount Royal, the crown of the red oak dominated the upper stratum of the forest area and abundance. On the ground, they share the territory with about sixty species, including maple, ash, linden, poplar, ostryers, walnut, hickories, pines, hemlocks, spruce trees, birch trees, red cedar, cherry trees, elms and hackberries.
The ancient texts of the series “trees”
The big winter storms and severe thunderstorms weaken sometimes these old oak trees in their tearing off a branch, for example. In this case, the insects will usually seep into the hole left by the branch broken, and devour the inside of the tree. The mushrooms will too and will contribute to the rotting of the heart of the tree, ” says Mr. Richard. But that’s not a problem, the oak normally continue in his life, although more precarious in the face of the blows of the wind, while offering shelter to birds, squirrels and raccoons that live in the forest. For this same reason, the trunks of oak trees dead are left on-site, in the forest, where they provide a refuge for multiple animal species.
For several years, the Friends of the mountain to lead an educational program named Seeds of the future with elementary school students. Each fall, in September and October, classes come to the mountain to pick up acorns from oak. “The students we entrust these acorns during the winter. We are preparing them to promote their germination. To do this, we include with sand and earth in a plastic bag that we keep in the fridge to reproduce artificially the conditions of winter. If the gland does not undergo a period of cold weather, it will germinate not. In the month of march, we will bring in the classes for the students to plant them in a potting soil germination and continue to grow at the school. In a few weeks, they will have a small tree. At the end of June, they will bring these small trees at the nursery in the campus of MILLET, of the University of Montreal. When these little oaks will reach a metre, they will ultimately be planted on mount Royal. We chose the oak for this experience, because it is very easy to grow, unlike maple, which we didn’t had a lot of success, ” says Mr Richard.
We plant each year between 1000 and 2000 plants per year on the mountain. “We try and re-create a diversity, but what we plant most are oaks and maples,” says Mr. Richard, who also insists on the fragility of the forest of mount Royal. “Those who come on the mountain must stay on official trails, and to avoid picking flowers and feeding animals. If everyone complied with it, the forest of mont Royal would be in much better health, “he said, while recalling that there is a craze for the sport in the open air,” which creates a big pressure on the large natural parks urban “. “The joggers and mountain bikers make their own journey by creating small paths. They are looking at the obstacles, the bumps. The trails are too flat, too smooth do not interest them. They create erosion, soil compaction, they damage the roots of trees. They threaten the forest, which is already adversely affected by climate change, the attacks by the borer and other threats again, ” he says.
A separate aspect
The red oak has leaves composed of large lobes with sharp points. When it is young, its bark is smooth and gray, but the oak trees of mount Royal, meanwhile, the bark is thick and rough, covered with large characteristic lines. The red oak produces very small flowers in spring that are shed from the tree at the beginning of June, and then of large acorns that are highly prized by squirrels that fall to the ground from mid-August until mid-September. These acorns plump explain the high population of gray squirrels in the park. For this reason, a grey squirrel holding an acorn of oak between his legs is represented on the beams of the grand chalet.