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Random Artifact Time: Watercolor of Turkey Oak Leaves (LM80.5.11)

It is November so lets talk turkey. This watercolor of Turkey Oak Quercus cerris leaves and acorn is one of 50 paintings that Graceanna Lewis (1821-1912) was commissioned to paint for the Pennsylvania Forestry Exhibit at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. There is a caption of the back of the painting, “TURKEY OAK. Quercus Cerris. Branch with green leaves. Branch with autumnal leaves and acorns of the first year. Ripened acorn of the second year.”

The Turkey Oak Quercus cerris is native to South Eastern-Europe and Asia Minor. In fact the tree is named after the country of Turkey and not the bird. As such it should ne be confused with the American Turkey Oak Quercus laevis, a tree native to the Southeastern United States, which is named after the bird because the shape of it’s leaves is said to resemble a turkey’s foot.

Despite being a non-native to the US the Turkey Oak is tolerant of most soil types (except wet) and can tolerant the heat, cold, drought, and air pollution, which makes them a good choice for landscaping in parking lots and urban areas. These trees can grow up to 130 feet but are usually found in the 30 to 50 foot range. (Reference: “US Forest Service Fact Sheet ST-544 Oct. 1994” )

Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) image from Consultaplantas via
Watercolor painting “Turkey Oak Quercus cerris by Graceanna Lewis (LM80.5.11)