Woziwoda, B.*, Potocki, M., Sagan, J., Zasada, M., Tomusiak, R. and Wilczyński, S. 2014. Commercial Forestry as a Vector of Alien Tree Species – the Case of Quercus rubra L. Introduction in Poland. Baltic Forestry 20(1): 131-141.

The paper presents the history of Quercus rubra L, its introduction and current distribution in the state forests of Poland. We followed the extent of Q. rubra planting on a spatial and temporal scale, based on data obtained from the Information System of the Polish State Forests (SILP) as of 2011. The current distribution of Northern Red oak, the characteristics of Q. rubra stands, the purposes of cultivation, the type of occupied forest habitat and differences of tree age were also analysed.

Q. rubra has been deliberately introduced to Poland as a commercially important tree since the beginning of the 19th century. During two hundred year period, the area of its intentional cultivation has been successively increased. In the second part of the 20th century, the scale and the rate of its planting have significantly accelerated. At present, Q. rubra occurs in the whole country and occupies 14.3 thousand ha of the state forests, including 10.5 thousand ha of timber plantations. Within the remaining area, Q. rubra was planted as an admixture woody species. Despite the relatively small proportion of area with planted Q. rubra in the total forest area (just 0.16%), red oak seems to occur commonly, mainly due to the very high number (over 80 thousand) localities through which it is spatially dispersed. It is planted in a wide range of forest soils: from dry and poor areas that are suitable for coniferous forest, to soils that are flooded and rich in nutrients and naturally overgrown by deciduous forests. The biggest area of its plantation, however, is located in mixed deciduous forests (with moisture and medium-rich soils). It is commonly used in forest restoration of post-industrial (e.g. post-mine) soils as well as in the afforestation of abandoned or poor post-agricultural lands. Currently, most of the stands are too young for logging, so the commercial significance of Q. rubra wood in the timber market is still low, but it is considered one of the most commercially important trees of alien origin in Poland.

The long lasting (200 years) and widespread cultivation of Q. rubra in European forests, however, in combination with the noted abundance of vital acorns, seedlings and saplings produced by numerous mature trees, may lead to a sustained propagule pressure and the expansion of this “sleeper weed”.

Key words: Quercus rubra; Northern red oak; introduction history; invasive species; sleeper weed