The water oak is a bottomland oak often found in poorly-drained areas near creeks or swamps. It is adaptable to well-drained soil and is sometimes used in landscaping. Acorns are high in tannin and not preferred unless it is the only acorn available, in which case it is a valuable food source for wildlife.
Southeastern US, from eastern Oklahoma to Kentucky, North Carolina and south to Florida.
Poorly drained soil, swamps, river bottoms; also flat upland areas with poor drainage.
Willow Oak - bark, acorns, and habitat are similar. However, willow oak leaves are narrow along the entire length, and closely resemble willow leaves, while water oak leaves are broader near the apex.
Pin Oak - Bark, habitat and acorns are similar between the two; however, pin oak has a more typical, deeply-lobed leaf shape. Also, water oak does not have the dense, downward-sloping lower branches of pin oak.
Shingle Oak - Both shingle and water oak have oblong, non-lobed leaves and small acorns; however, shingle oak leaves have a uniform oblong shape, like laurel, while water oak leaves appear top-heavy (broader near the apex). Shingle oak bark is also rougher than water oak.