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QUERCUS alba

Image of Quercus alba

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Fagaceae

Botanical Name

QUERCUS alba

Plant Common Name

White Oak

General Description

Large, robust and long-lived, the North American white oak is truly a regal tree when mature. It develops a large, rounded crown and strong, muscular branches. Hailing from a large expanse of eastern North America, this large deciduous tree has peeling, gray to brownish bark that forms scaly plates and its durable, attractive wood is valued for furniture making. They are slow-growing but have strong wood and can live for several hundred years.

The flowers appear in spring before the leaves unfurl. The male flowers appear first. These greenish catkins dangle in the wind and unload lots of airborne pollen. These are quickly followed by the small, reddish female flowers that appear on the new twigs at the base of the new leaves. Its smooth, oval, brown acorns appear singly and have light orange bumpy caps. These are fully mature in fall. The deeply lobed leaves appear in mid-spring. These have distinctly rounded lobes, prominent veins and may be blushed with burnished pink when they first emerge. The summer foliage is deep green, sometimes with a blue-green overtone, and in autumn it changes to shades of dark red and burgundy.

White oaks naturally exist along many topographies and can be found growing in many soil types, but most typically they are upland trees that grow in fertile soils with good drainage. They do not transplant well, so they must be planted when relatively young. This oak is not susceptible to sudden oak death.

Spectacular and awe-inspiring perhaps no other tree can look as magnificent alone in a large lawn or meadow. Wildlife also appreciates its acorns.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    50'-70' / 15.2m - 21.3m

  • Width

    50'-80' / 15.2m - 24.4m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Red, Light Green, Chartreuse

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green, Pink

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Red, Crimson, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Corky

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes