- Common Name(s):
- Willow oak
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Quercus phellos, which is commonly called willow oak is a medium to large deciduous tree in the Fagaceae family. It is in the red oak group that is noted for its oak shape, willow-like leaves, and relatively fast growth rate. The Willow oak typically grows 40-75’ tall with an oval to rounded crown but may reach 100’ in ideal conditions. Its bark is smooth, gray and tight on young trees and as the tree ages, irregular, rough ridges and furrows develop. The willow oak is not as messy as some oaks. The small leaves are easy to clean up in fall. This tree has a fibrous root system and is easy to transplant. It is also tolerant of heat, drought, air pollution, standing water and is highly salt tolerant.
Seasons of Interest:
Leaves: Fall Bloom: Spring Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall
Wildlife Value: This tree is mildly resistant to damage by deer. It is a host plant for the Banded Hairstreak, Edward's Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak, White-M Hairstreak, Horace's Duskywing, Juvenal's Duskywing butterflies and many moths. Its acorns are eaten by woodpeckers, songbirds, ducks, small mammals, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, quail and black bears.
Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Potential insect pests include cankerworms, scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, and nut weevils. Oaks are susceptible diseases such as chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots, and powdery mildew. This tree is highly susceptible to oak wilt. In general willow oak has good resistance to pests and to be a low-maintenance, long-lived tree.
- 60-80 ft.
- The blooms of the Willow oak are an insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear on the Willow Oak in spring (April) as the leaves emerge. It often has alternate years of heavy bearing. The fruits are rounded acorn cups (to 1/2” long).
- The Willow Oak is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Prefers moist well-drained loams, but adapts to a wide range of soil conditions including clays with somewhat poor drainage.
- Conical in youth; rounded crown; dense
- Full sun
- Southeast US
- Poison Part:
- Acorns (seeds of nuts) and young leaves.
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Stomach pain, constipation and later bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination
- Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out. Only collect nuts from areas you know.
- Toxic Principle:
- Gallotannins, quercitrin, and quercitin.
- CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN.
- Found in:
- Forest or natural areas; landscape as ornamental and shade trees.
- 30-40 ft.
- Growth Rate:
- The Willow Oak has alternate, simple, smooth-edged, bristle-tipped, narrow, green leaves (to 5” long and 1” wide) and are willow-like. The leaves turn an undistinguished yellow-brown or dull gold in fall.
NCCES plant id: 2174