Shinnery Oak, Quercus havardii

20th CenturyTexas

"Among the most unusual of biotic communities in North America is the sand-shinnery oak community occurring on sandy deposits in western Texas, eastern New Mexico, and southwestern Oklahoma." - Steven Mayes Quercus havardii is an unusual looking oak, more like a groundcover than a tree, but like other oaks it is a keystone species within its community. The majority of the plant is underground, with only one tenth visible to the human eye, its roots extending up to 18 ft into the sandy soil where it thrives. These root systems are critical to stabilizing the soil and creating habitat for other species. Historically Quercus havardii occupied five to seven million acres in the Southern Great Plains, its range has been diminised by agriculture, grazing, and development.

E. Beckman, S. Hoban, R. McCauley, A. Meyer, and M. Westwood, "Quercus havardii Rydb," in E. Beckman, A. Meyer, G. Man, D. Pivorunas, A. Denvir, D. Gill, K. Shaw, and M. Westwood, Conservation Gap Analysis of Native U.S. Oaks (Lisle, IL: The Morton Arboretum), 122-127.

image: Shinnery Oak. Quercus havardii. NPS photo by Neal Herbert.