As we act locally celebrating white oak, Quercus alba, as the 2011 VNPS Wildflower of the Year, it is perhaps appropriate to think globally for a few moments and consider the breadth of diversity encompassed by the oaks. Quercus is a big genus, easily the largest in its family, the Fagaceae. Approximately 400 species of oak are known, and they are widely distributed in the northern hemisphere. We tend to think of oaks as temperate zone trees, but in the New World, their range extends south through the mountains of Central America to Colombia and in the Old World, into the tropics of southeast Asia.

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Copyright © 2011, Virginia Native Plant Society. This article first appeared in Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society: 30:2 (2011), 3,8.

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