Here in the Brazos Valley, most people consider Live Oaks to be the Holy Grail of shade trees. Don’t get me wrong, Live Oaks are phenomenal trees, however, there is a tree gaining significant attention recently; the Mexican White Oak. Mexican White Oaks, also known as Monterrey Oaks, are native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Val Verde county in West Texas. These trees have excellent drought resistance, a long lifespan, and a majestic form. I highly recommend this tree to clients, friends, and family. Let’s jump into the reasons why you should consider a Mexican White Oak for your next tree.
Growth Rate: When choosing a new tree to plant, it is important to research its growth rate. Trees are an investment, as they take time to grow and mature; some more than others. Mexican White Oaks are fast growers; they can grow up to 4 ft. per year in ideal conditions. For comparison, Live Oaks only grow up to 2.5 ft. per year. Generally, trees that are fast growers are considered to be ‘trash trees’, which is characteristic of having weak wood. However, Mexican White Oaks are known for their strong, durable wood. These trees also have cooling properties which make them excellent shade trees.
Adaptability: Mexican White Oaks easily adapt to most soil types and environments. They can thrive in well-draining, rocky soil, as well as the clay soils here in the Brazos Valley. They are extremely drought tolerant, however, they do well in areas that get a lot of rain. Adaptability makes Mexican White Oaks excellent shade trees for urban areas and parks. The University of Texas at Austin is particularly fond of Mexican White Oaks, they can be seen all over the campus.
Pests & Diseases: Mexican White Oaks are generally healthy trees; they have excellent disease and pest resistance. They can be susceptible to powdery mildew, however, they usually don’t require any treatment. Oak wilt is a common fungal disease that can attack oaks, and while Mexican White Oaks aren’t exempt, they are believed to have a better resistance than Red Oaks.
Semi-Evergreen: Mexican White Oaks are not considered evergreen, however they do keep their green leaves throughout winter. In the spring, they briefly lose their leaves as new leaves are budding. It is a great characteristic for trees to have green leaves during the winter months.
Low Maintenance: Mexican White Oaks are very low maintenance; once a tree is established, it requires little attention. Pruning low hanging branches will be necessary as the tree grows to ensure a healthy canopy. However, Mexican White Oaks produce less deadwood than Live Oaks, so overall they require less pruning.
Mexican White Oaks are wonderful trees for hardiness zones 7-10. They are valuable shade trees with qualities that give them a better chance for survival than some of their competitors. I recently spoke with a client about sprucing up the natural areas around his property and his concern was that it would take too long for the trees to provide the coverage he desired. I recommended planting larger Mexican White Oaks; which will provide coverage in only a few years. This ended up being the perfect solution. Depending on the space, a Mexican White Oak just might be the best fit for your new tree.