Help: humongous leaves!

Bill Williams bwilliam at
Tue Oct 27 08:58:40 EST 1992

A twelve-year-old kid in our neighborhood (southern Maryland, USA)
recently found an oak leaf
(Quercus velutina, I think) about four times larger than any I've
previously seen -- it's about 35 cm long by 30 cm broad. He and some
neighbors are very excited about this find and have called the local
newspaper (it's a small town) and asked the local botanist - me - for
some sort of explanation.  I haven't the slightest clue. 

 Can anyone offer a plausible suggestion of some things that might
cause one enormous leaf on an otherwise normal tree?  Somatic mutation?
Some odd sort of double development (maybe two buds fused or
something)?  I'm 90% sure the blasted newspaper is going to call me for
an "expert opinion," and they're not going to take any disclaimer like
I'm only a recently displaced Californian physiological ecologist and
so how should I know.  So any help would be VERY welocome!! 
William E. Williams, bwilliam at
Divison of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, MD 20686

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