< BACK

Quercus alba

Fagaceae

white oak (Quercus alba) is also called Fork Leaf Oak, Ridge White Oak, and Stave Oak. It is in the White Oak Group (duh) and reaches a height of 150 ft. The bark is thin, light gray to white or reddish brown and slightly furrowed to scaly. The twigs are slender and gray. The leaves are deciduous and the blades are elliptic to oblong, 4-10" long, 5 9 lobed with lobes “finger” shaped, apex of lobes rounded, base cuneate, upper surface dark green, lower surface glaucous white, and turning red to brown in the fall. The acorns are ellipsoid-ovoid to oblong, light brown, 0.5-1.5" long, cup bowl shaped, warty and encloses about 1/4 of the acorn. The wood is strong, tough, close-grained, light brown, hard, heavy, nonporous, durable, and weighs about 48 lb per cu ft. It has been used for fuel, ties, baskets, cabinets, barrels, tools, furniture, construction work, agricultural implements, shipbuilding, wagons, crossties, fence posts, interior finish, and tight cooperage. Acorns provide food for turkey, squirrels, hogs, white-tailed deer, turkey, and quail. White Oak is usually considered the most important of the many species of oak and is considered to be the most important hardwood tree in America. There are reports of parents planting a white oak when a child was born so the child would grow up strong like the White Oak. The early colonists and Indians ground the acorns into meal and poured water through it to remove the tannic acid before baking into bread. Also, Indians used the bark for medicinal teas; the bark is reported to be astringent and tonic and used to treat hemorrhoids. Early European settlers are also reported to have made coffee from the roasted acorns. White Oak is the state tree of Connecticut and Maryland. In mesic to well drained soils especially hardwood slope forests (FACU) in the pine regions of the state. A number of small white oaks on Allen Acres and some larger ones on the adjacent Kisatchie National Forest. Caterpillars of three butterflies, Juvenal's Duskywing, White M Hairstreak, and Banded Hairstreak are reported to eat white oak. Caterpillars of more than 50 moth species including luna, imperial, and IO, are reported to eat white oak.