Willow Oak (quercus phellos)

Does anyone have experience with Willow Oak (quercus phellos)? I found one in the spring that I would love to dig up, but it seems like it may have very deep roots. It’s growing on a beach, in sand and gravel, and it’s covered by the high tide daily. I dug around the roots back in spring, and it seems they may go very deep. Any ideas or recommendations on collecting these?

Thanks in advance.


It seems a lot of people read this, but no one decided to comment. Does that mean no one has any experience with this particular species? Maybe someone has suggestions on collecting trees in this type of beach environment, instead? The only examples I can seem to find are this one (https://bonsai-south.com/awesome-willow-oak-first-bonsai-pot/) and this one (https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/another-willow-oak.510/), but there isn’t much info about species-specific nuances and/or collection. If no one has info, no worries. Just thought I would give it one more shot.


Not that species particularly but oaks in general sounds like the roots are uncollctable. Most Oaks have deep tap roots and few feeders at shallow depths. Trees in sandy soil often have long running roots with few feeders near the trunk.:wink:

@WLKeugene, thanks for replying. I figured the answers would be such, but I just wanted to see what someone had to say about it. I’m slightly conflicted because I know if the tree has enough energy stored you could be aggressive with root cutting, just before bud push, and the new foliage in the spring will cause root growth throughout the season. Stump collecting, if you will. But maybe it won’t work. Maybe the tree isn’t healthy enough. I seem to recall Ryan saying, or reading elsewhere, that oaks dislike root disturbance more than other trees. Not sure. At any rate, thanks for the reply. I’ll evaluate it again in the later winter and make a decision. I know it’s a ways off, but I wanted to think about it again.

Did not hear Ryan say this but it is my experience and have seen it said several times about the root disturbance. If there’s not a decent amount of fine feeder roots I wouldn’t expect the tree to live. If the tree is really spectacular AND you could dig enough long roots and ground plant then grafting seedling roots or scarring/rooting hormone work might be done over time to develop a compact root system. But that’s only if the tree’s worth all the work. Good luck either way.

@WLKeugene thanks. I will likely leave it alone, but I’ll give it another investigation in the winter. Just wanted to hear some kind of reinforcement one way or another. Thank you.