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Quercus velutina

Common Name(s):
Black oak
Native Plants, Trees

Quercus velutina, commonly called the Black oak, is a large deciduous tree native to the eastern United States and Canada in the Fagaceae family.  It is similar to red oak (Quercus rubra) and may sometimes hybridize it.  Looking at the buds will help distinguish the two as red oak has smaller hairless buds and black oaks are larger and are covered in a dense, gray pubescence. Mature bark is ridged and almost black; the inner bark is yellow-orange. Makes a great shade tree for lawns or parks or a street tree.  Tolerates being planted near black walnut trees.

Seasons of Interest:

       Foliage: Fall    Nut:  Fall Bark: Winter

Wildlife:  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Banded Hairstreak, Edward's Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak, White-M Hairstreak, Horace's Dustywing, and Juvenal's Duskywing butterflies.  The acorns are eaten by woodpeckers, blue jays, small mammals, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and black bears.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insect problems include borers, galls,  leaf miner, oak lace bugs, oak skeletonizer, and scales. The following diseases can occasionally be a problem:  chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots, and powdery mildew.  This tree is highly susceptible to oak wilt.  It can be difficult to transplant because of a long taproot.  

The Black Oak has insignificant, monoecious, greenish-yellow catkins in April-May. They are followed by elliptic acorns (to 3/4” long) saucer-shaped acorn cups that cover up to 1/2 of the acorn body. After trees mature large crops of acorns are cyclical, appearing every 2 to 3 years. The acorn requires two growing seasons to reach maturity.
The Black Oak is easily grown in average, acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. It prefers moist, organically rich, well-drained soils, but tolerates poor dry soils. It's difficult to transplant because of deep taproot.
Globular, spreading crown
Sun, part shade
The Black Oak has alternate leaves with 5 (mostly) to 7 bristle-tipped lobes and a hairy underside (especially leaves on young trees). The leaves are leathery, shiny, and dark green (to 10” long). They turn yellow to yellow-brown to dull red in fall.
host plant, showy fruit, deciduous, low maintenance, fall color, street tree, wildlife, black walnut, fall interest, shade tree, bark, butterflies

NCCES plant id: 3183

Quercus velutina Form
Bruce Kirchoff, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Quercus velutina Leaves
Bruce Kirchoff, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Quercus velutina Buds
Jay Sturner, CC BY - 2.0
Quercus velutina Acorns
Bruce Kirchoff, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Quercus velutina Bark
Pollinator, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Quercus velutina Black oak fall color, seen here in front of some pitch pine trees.
Sandy Richards, CC BY-NC - 4.0