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Similar but less problematic plants:
Castanea dentata Castanea dentata
Quercus alba is often confused with:
Quercus robur Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Quercus nigra Form
Quercus coccinea Fall color
Quercus falcata Form

White Oak Quercus alba

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
KWER-kus AL-ba
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

White Oak is a deciduous tree in the beech family that is native to forested areas of eastern North America. In NC it can be found primarily in the Piedmont but also in lower elevations of the mountains and the coastal plain and prefers dry, mesic forests. It is slow-growing and can reach heights of 135 ft with an 80-foot spread but generally tops at 80-100 feet. The deep taproot makes it difficult to transplant. It is a long-lived and attractive oak with a rounded spreading crown.

White Oak prefers coarse, deep, moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil with medium fertility but is adaptable to other soil types except for wet ones and is fairly drought tolerant once established. Fall foliage is wine red in color. Use as a shade tree for large yards or parks or in a naturalized area for wildlife to enjoy.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Numerous insect and disease pests, but the damage is rarely significant.  Sensitive to soil compaction.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Pinnately lobed leaves with entire margins
  • Leaves widest typically at middle, glaucous below

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#shade tree#poisonous#full sun#partial shade#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#partial sun#native tree#moths#tree#nectar plant#cover plant#spring flowers#tsc#street tree#playground#black walnut#small mammals#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#black bears#deer resistant#woodpeckers#blue jays#acorns#nighttime garden#children's garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#tsc-t#pollinator garden#problem for horses#audubon#moth larva#banded hairstreak butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#imperial moth#juvenal’s duskywing butterfly#edward’s hairstreak butterfly#white-m hairstreak butterfly#horace’s duskywing butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Quercus
    Species:
    alba
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Hardwood timber for flooring, woodwork, barrels, ships and more.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South East Canada to Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    Found along the entire eastern United States and west into Texas
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Oak trees support a wide variety of Lepidopteran. You may see Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed. Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus), which have one flight from June-August everywhere but Florida where they emerge April-May. Edward's Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii), has one flight from May-July in the south and June-July in the north. Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), has three to four flights in the south from February-November and two flights in the north from May-September. White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) has three broods in the north from February-October. Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius) has three broods in Texas and the deep south from January-November, and two broods in the north from April-September. Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis) has one brood from April-June, appearing as early as January in Florida. The Acorns are eaten by woodpeckers, blue joys, small mammals, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and black bear.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Wildlife Nesting
    Edibility:
    Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 135 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 50 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/2-1 inch long acorns are elongated and have a shallow cup that covers 1/4 of the nut. The cup is light tan or gray with warty scales. Acorns mature the first year and can be numerous and are a light brown color. Nuts appear from September-November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Male flowers are produced as greenish-yellow catkins in pendulous clusters about 2-3½" long. Female flowers are smaller and greenish-red and are few in spikes in axils of emerging leaves. Flowers appear in April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    White
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cuneate
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    4-9 inch long by 2-4 inch wide leaves have 5-9 deep, rounded and even lobes per leaf. They have a rounded tip and a wedge-shaped base. The sinuses vary in depth and some may reach near the midrib. Color is bright green with whitish undersides. The fall color is purplish-brown to reddish-brown and develops late. A few leaves may persist into winter. Leaves are alternate, simple, obovate to oblong-obovate, and cuneate. Lobes are entire and obtuse. Lower surface is glaucous beneath.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Peeling
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    Light grey, shallowly furrowed and divided into flat narrow plates. Can become flakey with age.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Branch bark is light gray and smooth. Twigs are yellowish-brown to purplish brown and smooth with scattered white lenticels. Buds are are ovoid, blunt, up to 1/4" long, have imbricate scales, are reddigh-brown to brown, and are pubescent hairy near ends.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Fire
    Heat
    Salt
    Problems:
    Messy
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Abdominal pain, constipation then diarrhea (occasionally bloody), depression, frequent urination, discolored urine, jaundice; acorns can obstruct the digestive tract
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Gallotannins, quercitrin, and quercitin.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds