The Accidental Green Meatball

Recently PDN staffer Chris Hardison, who heads up our marketing team, noticed an odd green meatball in a local shopping center parking lot. Upon closer examination, he found it to be a specimen of our native willow oak, Quercus phellos.

It’s obvious that the low-end mow and blow crew who take care of the plants in the parking lot assumed it to be another plant, like the hollies nearby, that needed to be butchered into the most unnatural shape possible…a green meatball.

We were curious if the oak was a natural dwarf, or was damaged when it was young, and was simply trying to resprout, when it caught the eye of the crew of horticultural butchers. It does have three smaller trunks than its nearby same age siblings, which seem to indicate damage during its youth.

To confirm this theory, we have taken cuttings and if we can get them to root, we’ll plant them out at JLBG and see if it maintains the dwarf form, which could actually be a fascinating option for homeowners. The second image below shows the green meatball oak in front of it’s sibling, planted the same time.

We love horticultural mysteries.

Quercus phellos green meatball form
Quercus phellos green meatball in front of its more typical sibling

3 thoughts on “The Accidental Green Meatball”

  1. Marian Jarvinen

    If that nearby pole carries electrical lines the poor plant may just have been whacked off by a power company to keep it from growing tall. They do that a lot! Then possibly the grounds crew simply tried to make the best of it? Just a thought. I have pointed out many a green meatball ever since first reading Tony Avent’s funny article about them, but that poor thing is an oval, not a ball shape.

  2. Suzanne R Dworsky

    A wonderful way to start my Sunday, the last imasge made me laugh out loud. It inspired me to get to my shrubs that actually need pruning but not butchering. I love your posts, they start my morning on a happy note. I garden in central Vermont, in an exposed windy site, but i have succeeded in growing some relatively tender perennials in the shelter of house and retaining walls. I own many, many of your offerings! Thank you for taking the time to share the plants you enjoy and admire.

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