- Common Name(s):
- Willow oak
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Quercus phellos, which is commonly called willow oak, is a medium to large, deciduous oak tree of 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. 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.
It has dark, irregularly-furrowed trunks (gray to dark gray-brown) that develop on mature trees.
This tree has a fibrous root system and is easy to transplant. It is also tolerant of heat, drought, air pollution, and standing water. Fine-textured oak.
Regions: Piedmont, Coastal Plains
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: Oaks are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, willow oak is generally considered to have 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
- EDIBLE PARTS: Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out. HARVEST TIME: Only collect nutsfrom areas you kn
- 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) are willow-like. The leaves turn an undistinguished yellow-brown or dull gold in fall.
NCCES plant id: 2174