Search plant names:
Links for Teachers
Site Map

Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > White Oak

White Oak

(Quercus alba L)

  Within its natural range, the eastern half of the United States, the white oak is one of the most important timber trees. In North Carolina, it is abundant in the Piedmont and lower mountains but it is also found in the Coastal Plain.

White oak leaves are 5 to 9 inches long with seven to nine rounded lobes. The depth of the sinuses separating the lobes varies, in some cases almost reaching the midrib. The base of the leaf narrows abruptly to become wedge-shaped at the stem. The acorn is about 3/4 inch long and, when mature, is a light chestnut-brown. About one-fourth of the acorn is enclosed in a bowl-shaped cup covered with rough scales that join at their bases to form small knobs.

The thin bark is light, ash gray in color and is covered with loose scales or broad plates. These scales, which are found on the upper stem and branches, are useful in identifying the white oak.

White oak trees reach 80 to 100 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in diameter. In the open, the tree develops a rounded spreading crown; in forest stands, it has a tall, clear stem and smaller crown. Growth is good on all but the driest shallow soils, but it is best on deep, well-drained, loamy soils.

The light brown wood is useful and valuable. It is heavy, strong, hard, close-grained and durable. It has many uses, including construction, shipbuilding, tight cooperage, furniture, tools, interior finish, flooring and fuel. Even though it grows rather slowly, white oak is valuable for forest, highway and ornamental planting.
Plant Information Center
About PIC  |  Project Staff   |  Advisory Panel Research Activities |  
Partners  Permissions 
  Funding provided in part by
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Plant Information Center is produced
in conjunction with Botnet