White Oak

Introduction

An outstanding shade tree, the wide and large white oak is known for its high-quality wood and impressive stature. Historically significant to the birth and formation of the United States, the white oak is a cultural and aesthetic asset to any public or private space.

Common Name

White oak

Latin Name

Quercus alba

Leaf

Alternate, oblong to ovate in shape, 4 to 7 inches long; 7 to 10 finger-like lobes; apex is rounded and the base is wedge-shaped; pale white undersides

Flower

Male flowers are yellow-green, borne in naked, slender catkins*, 2-4 inches long; female flowers are reddish green and appear as very small single spikes

Fruit/nut

Ovoid* to oblong acorn, cap is warty and bowl-shaped, covers a quarter of the fruit; cap always detaches at maturity.

Twig/branches

Red-brown to somewhat gray, even a bit purple at times, hairless and often shiny; multiple terminal buds are red-brown, small, rounded and hairless

Bark

Whitish or ashy gray, varying from scaly and irregularly blocky on large stems. On older trees, smooth patches are not uncommon.

Form

A very large tree; when open grown, white oaks have rugged, irregular crowns that are wide spreading, with a stocky trunk

Size

Normally grows 65 to 85 feet tall, with a spread almost equal to the height

Native Range

White oak grows throughout most of the eastern United States; east of the Mississippi River and south to Florida

Type

Large deciduous tree

Seasonal Colors

The leaves stay green in summer but turn a crimson-brown in fall

Soil

Excels in dry and moist habitats, as well as in moderately acid and alkaline soils

Light

Intermediate tolerance to shade

Similar Species

Overcup oak, bur oak, post oak, sand post oak

Pests and Diseases

A wide variety of pests and diseases can affect the white oak, but the most destructive is oak wilt, a vascular disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum.

Rebate Eligibility

$100

Of Note

White oak is used extensively in Japanese martial arts for some weapons, such as the bokken and jo.

The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned U.S. Navy warship, is made of white oak and wood replacement comes from a special grove called Constitution Grove in Indiana.

In Hartford, CT, there is a hollow in the “Charter Oak” that allegedly was the hiding place of Connecticut’s constitutional charter, put there to thwart its confiscation by the English governor-general.

Photo Credits

milesizz
Tie Guy II
Tie Guy II(3)