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.
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
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
Ovoid* to oblong acorn, cap is warty and bowl-shaped, covers a quarter of the fruit; cap always detaches at maturity.
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
Whitish or ashy gray, varying from scaly and irregularly blocky on large stems. On older trees, smooth patches are not uncommon.
A very large tree; when open grown, white oaks have rugged, irregular crowns that are wide spreading, with a stocky trunk
Normally grows 65 to 85 feet tall, with a spread almost equal to the height
White oak grows throughout most of the eastern United States; east of the Mississippi River and south to Florida
Large deciduous tree
The leaves stay green in summer but turn a crimson-brown in fall
Excels in dry and moist habitats, as well as in moderately acid and alkaline soils
Intermediate tolerance to shade
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.
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.