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
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.