The White Oak Tree

Quercus alba

White Oak Tree
The White Oak Tree

The white oak tree is probably the most majestic of all oak trees. This tree will spread out at the top even in heavy forest.

When found in an open area a mature white oak produces a picture-perfect fullness, and is sometimes wider than it is tall.

 

Identification

This oak tree is easily distinguished from other oaks, even in the winter.

The bark is much lighter in color than other oaks. It is usually a light gray color. The bark also has a "flaky" appearance to it. It can sometimes be peeled off in small pieces. Birds like nuthatches and woodpeckers will look for bugs under the bark.

There is one oak tree that can be confused with the white oak. In the winter this tree can sometimes be confused with the swamp white oak. The bark is almost identical. The leaves are the distinguishing feature between these trees. The swamp white oak does not have finger-like lobes.

 

Leaf Identification

The leaves of the white oak are also easily distinguished. They are multi-colored in that they are darker green on top and a lighter green on the underside. The leaves have 7 to 9 finger like lobes.

The acorns of white oaks can be quite large. They also can be quite abundant in the late summer and fall. White oak trees can produce very large crops. If you have a white oak in or near your yard you likely have cleaned up a lot of acorns in the fall.

 

The wood is used for many things

The wood of the white oak is a light color when cut. As it dries it will turn a yellowish color. The wood is very hard and strong. It is excellent for flooring. Naturally finished (no stain) white oak boards have a nice, warm look to them.

The wood also makes for good firewood when properly dried, however it isn't fun to split a log. Even when dry, white oak is very stringy and extremely difficult to split with a maul or wedge. A hydraulic splitter is nice to have when splitting white oak.

This tree is native to the entire eastern half of the United States.



White Oak Pictures

-- click the images below for larger pictures --

A full White Oak
Sometimes as wide as they are tall
The bark of white oak
The bark of white oak
White Oak leaves in the winter
Leaves in the winter
The bark of white oak
Note the flaky bark of the tree
White Oak leaf
Leaf in the summer
(ODNR photo)
White Oak Acorns
Acorns
(ODNR photo)



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NW Ohio Nature Oak Leaf