Quercus alba, White Oak

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

You will need plenty of space for this beauty, which can spread wider than it is tall, maturing at over 100 feet.  Often dominant in the canopy, the State Tree of Maryland supports 80 birds and mammals and up to 534 Lepidoptera species. How fitting that the largest recorded US specimen lived on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. At nearly 500 years old, the majestic Wye Oak fell in 2002. The Virginia Native Plant Society honored White Oak* as Wildflower of the Year in 2011.

Print Version: Quercus alba, White Oak

Quercus alba (white oak)Slow-growing, majestic deciduous tree w/ 3-4 foot diameter trunk and pyramidal to rounded shape, Alternate, simple, 4-7-inch long, glossy leaves with 5 to 9 lobes with rounded tips and sinuses, Yellow-green hanging catkins (male); small reddish spike (female) bloom from March to May, 3/4-inch oblong acorn, with bumpy, bowl-like cap that disjoins from brownish nut when mature, Leaves turn shades of dark reds/wine to brown in fall; some dead leaves may remain on winter tree, White-gray bark, from furrowed to scaly to platy, Tolerates clay & dry soils, Black Walnut & drought but not flooding; less shade tolerant with age & size, Possible problems: anthracnose, root rot and leaf scorch; deer occasionally severely damage (saplings vulnerable where deer are overpopulated), Acorns can be harmful if eaten, Provides acorns, cover, nesting sites; larval host to some hairstreaks, duskywings & many moths, Rich, acidic, well-drained Quercus acutissima Carruthers - Sawtooth Oak, sun, Partial Shade Ulmus pumila L. - Siberian Elm, Dry, Moist, Use as ornamental lawn tree for large landscapes *It is common throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic Region, although a little sparse in PA’s central northern counties. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9 is probably the most common and widespread native oak.Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets