White Oak

Quercus alba

Leaves are alternate, simple, lobed; with rounded tips. Fruit is an acorn.

twig, acorn, and leafThe white oak is one of our most important, largest, longest-lived and most valuable timber trees. It grows to 100 feet in to 4 feet in diameter. In the timber it forms a tall, straight tree, but in the open it is wide and spreading. Found over all of the eastern United States, it occurs on a wide variety of soils, but usually on upland clay soils.

leavesThe single leaves are 4 to 7 inches long and about half as broad, deeply divided into seven to nine rounded, fingerlike lobes. The young leaves are a soft, silvery gray or yellow to red when unfolding, later becoming bright green above and much paler be low.

The acorn is about 1 inch long, elliptical, and covered about 1/3 its length by a finely scaled, rounded cup.

The twigs are fine, and gray to green in color. The bark is ashy gray to a very light gray and decidedly scaly. On older trunks it is somewhat ridged, but remains ashy gray and scaly.


  • Have seven to nine lobes
  • Smooth leaf margin (no tooth)
  • Deep to shallow sinuses extending evenly to the midrib
  • Contain tannin
  • Turn orange-red, crimson, and red-purple, then fade to brown in the fall and may remain on the tree into winter

bark, acorn, and leaves Branching: alternate

Bark: light ashy gray, mature trees - shallow and flaky

Height: 80 to 100 ft.

Trunk Diameter: 3 to 4 ft.

Longevity: 500 to 600 yrs.

Tolerance: intermediate, tendency to become more intolerant with age.

Range: eastern U.S.

Fun Facts:

  • Acorns are food for wildlife.
  • Wood is used for making furniture, flooring and pallets
  • Has large pores, but plugged up by resin; wood could be used for root beer barrels.


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This key was developed by "bt" in June 1982. It was put into HTML format by Stephen Ostermiller in July 1997. Copies of the entire guide in zip format that may be taken to camp on a laptop are available to those who write.