White Oak

Quercus alba

Description:


The white oak is a distinct tree with its pale, shaggy bark and leaves with long, narrow, rounded lobes. Acorns are highly preferred by deer and other wildlife due to the low tannic acid content. The white oak may grow to impressive size and age, sometimes reaching several hundred years old.

Distribution:


Eastern US and Canada. Very common tree across much of its range.


Distribution Map

Habitat:


Well-drained soils from ridges to valleys and creek bottoms. Adaptable to a variety of habitat and soil types, but not usually found around swamps or big river bottoms.

Leaf:


5 to 11 rounded lobes with deep sinuses. Underside pale or whitish green.

White Oak

Bark:


Light gray to almost white, blocky or ridged on the lower trunk, shaggy or scaly on the upper part of the tree. Upper bark often resembles that of shagbark hickory, but lighter gray in color and more brittle. Shagginess may vary from one tree to the next.

White Oak

Acorn:


Medium to large (3/4" to 1 1/2"). Solid brown when ripe, usually elongated or egg-shaped, with a "bumpy" cap covering about 1/3 of the nut. Fruit readily separates from the cap when ripe.

White Oak

Gallery

Look-alike oaks:


Swamp White Oak - leaves and bark may appear similar at a glance; however, bark of swamp white oak is usually a darker shade of gray. Leaves of swamp white oak have irregular, shallow sinuses, while those of white oak have more uniform, deeper sinuses. Acorns of white oak are usually much larger than those of swamp white oak.


Post Oak - leaves of both species have rounded lobes, but those of post oak have fewer lobes, and the lobes are broader and more "blocky" in appearance. Bark is often similar in color, but that of post oak lacks the shaggy layers on the upper trunk.


Chinkapin Oak - bark is of similar color; however, leaf shape is entirely different. Chinkapin oak leaves have a sawtooth margin with no deep lobes. Bark of chinkapin oak has a finer, more flaky appearance, while that of white oak usually has long, shaggy plates on the upper trunk. Chinkapin oak acorns are smaller and darker brown than those of white oak.


Swamp Chestnut Oak - see chinkapin oak above - bark and leaves show the same differences, while swamp chestnut oak acorns are usually much larger than those of white oak.

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