Quercus alba ▪︎ White Oak

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Latin Name: Quercus alba
Name: White Oak

Quercus alba range map LITTLE

Family: Fagaceae
Division: White
Native range: Maine to Florida, Minnesota to Texas. In Nebraska, limited to extreme SE, Richardson and Nemaha counties.
Sun/Shade: sun
Height × Width: 50-80' × same (to 100' in the wild)
Zones: 3-9

Form: pyramidal when young; rounded & widely spreading

Flower: Monoecious. Staminate (male) catkins pendent, clustered; individual flowers 4-7-lobed calyx, 6 stamens. Pistallate (female) flowers mostly solitary or more at new leaf axils; 6-lobe calyx, 3-celled ovary, all enclosed in an involucre.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, 4"- 8½" × half, 5-9 rounded lobes, dark green above, pale or glaucous below, grayish-pink when unfolding.

Fall color: brown to red to wine, dark burgundy-

Fruit: Nut (acorn), solitary or paired, sessile (short-stalked), ¾-1", ovoid-oblong, chestnut-brown cap (involucre) is ¼-1/3 of length, with raised bumpy scales, nut deep chocolate brown.

Buds: Reddish-brown to brown.

Bark: Old trunks–ashy-gray, can be blocky or scaly. 

Wildlife: Food for birds and mammals. For detailed information, especially of insect associations, see Illinois Wildflower's Quercus alba page.

Disease & insects: many, but none serious.

Euro-American Cultural Uses: Wine and whiskey casks, historical ship-building

Indigenous Cultural Uses: acorns for food; tonic from bark for many medicinal uses, including veterinary; fiber and wood for tools, housegoods; decoction for lonliness.


Notes: “If oak is the king of trees, as tradition has it, then the white oak, throughout its range, is the king of kings.”
Donald Culross Peattie


Quercus alba location amp

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All images from the Earl G. Maxwell Arboretum unless noted.Quercus alba acorn
Ripening Acorns

Quercus alba twig and buds
Twig, showing buds and lenticels

Quercus alba new red leaves
New foliage often emerges red

Quercus alba twig and new leaves
Twigs with new growth emerging from buds

Quercus alba catkins
Male flower catkins

Quercus alba acorns and leaves
Maturing acorns and foliage

Querucs alba bark

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