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QUERCUS marilandica

Image of Quercus marilandica

Gerald L. Klingaman



Botanical Name

QUERCUS marilandica

Plant Common Name

Blackjack Oak

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

A perfectly shaped oak tree for an old college campus or stately field, blackjack oak has elderly character. It develops a relatively short, stout trunk with chunky dark gray bark and forms an irregularly rounded canopy with pronounced, somewhat gnarled branches. Dead branches persist due to the resilient strength of the wood and must be pruned off to keep trees looking their best. This deciduous oak is smaller than most species and native to areas across the eastern United States, from New York down to Florida and across to Texas. It is most commonly found growing in upland savannas and forests adjacent to grasslands where soils are well-drained and have moderate to poor fertility. Blackjack oak is in the red oak group (section Lobatae), so its leaf tips are pointed rather than rounded and its acorns have imbricate rather than knobby caps.

The leaves emerge in spring and are thick, leathery and glossy deep green. Each is shaped like a duck's foot or wedge with three or four rounded lobes that flare towards the tip. Leaf undersides are lighter green and covered in orange-tan hairs. The yellowish male flowers appear in pendent clusters called catkins just before the leaves emerge in spring. New leaves are coral-red when they first unfurl. Shortly after, reddish female flowers bloom at the base of young leaves and capture pollen from the male flowers, which is carried by wind. The oval acorns are light brown, sometimes striped, and half-covered by scaled, hairy caps. In autumn, the leaves turn rusty orange and yellow.

The slow-growing, resilient blackjack oak thrives in full sun to partial shade and acid to neutral soil with good drainage. This tree has a deep taproot, which allows it to draw up water in dry summers, but it does not transplant well, so once it's planted it cannot be moved. This is a beautiful tree for large landscapes or parks. It is also ideal for native gardens. Its acorns are eaten by many wild birds and mammals. In fact, its acorns are one of the most preferred by fox squirrels.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 3

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    45'-50' / 13.7m - 15.2m

  • Width

    30'-40' / 9.1m - 12.2m

  • Bloom Time


  • Native To

    United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH


  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Red, Yellow Green, Gold

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Light Green, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Yellow, Bronze, Orange Red

  • Bark Color

    Black, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture


  • Usage

    Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts


  • Self-Sowing