Oak Tree Leaves
Image by Tim Kennelty

Learn about Oak Trees and Melons on Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley

Episode 85: Oaks and Melons

Oaks (trees or shrubs in the genus Quercus of the beech family Fagaceae) are a favorite tree in New York. The mighty oak has earned this reputation due to its towering size, its historical, timber and ecological value, as well as its role in American (and human) culture. A symbol of strength and endurance, the oak is a key hardwood forest tree that can live for several hundred years. It is also a critical host tree for many types of pollinators. Its acorns and leaves contain tannic acid which helps to guard against fungi and insects. But did you know that it can take up to 17 years before an oak tree bears its first crop of acorns?

While the Quercus family is native to the Northern Hemisphere, there are about 500 existing species of oaks but only 16 are native to New York State. Locally, they can be typically categorized into white oaks ( quercus alba), whose acorns form in a single season, and black oaks (which include red oaks), which take two seasons to form their acorns. Other parts of the country and the world host other varieties including the evergreen live oak which can be found in the southern United States.

Because of their longevity (outliving humans), oaks are known as witness trees. Learn from the Nature Calls: Conversations of the Hudson Valley podcast team as they share stories about oak trees and provide examples of what some of these trees have witnessed throughout history. 

But then, there’s more. Melons are the topic of discussion on the Patch to Plate segment with Annie Scibienski . This category includes watermelons, honeydews, and cantaloupes. A great resource, Vegetable Varieties of New York State , published by Cornell University, provides a list of vegetables and fruits (including melons) that are rated highly to grow well in New York State. Get your taste buds watering with descriptions of recipes for watermelon salad, watermelon pickles, and grilled cantaloupe.

There’s a lot to take in on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley . Enjoy!

Hosts:Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guests: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Tim Kennelty, Annie Scibienski, and Jean Thomas

Photo by: Tim Kennelty

Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski



> Oaks in the Landscape - USU Extension Services

> If You Can Do Just One Thing

> Oak - National Tree Candidate

Melons (Patch to Plate)

> NY gardeners rate and review vegetable varieties

> Vegetable Varieties for NY Gardeners - scroll down to Melons

> Watermelon Rind Pickles

> Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley - Ep 6 Food Preservation

> Cornell Cooperative Extension | Food Gardening (cce columbia greene.org)

> CCE Recipes

> Cornell Consumer Information;

>CCE: Cornell Cooperative Extension (ccecolumbiagreene.org)

Last updated September 6, 2023