Swamp White Oak

Swamp White Oak

Quercus bicolor

The Swamp White Oak is native to North America. It’s range is from the Midwestern states, east to New York, New England states, eastern Canada, Nova Scotia and south to North Carolina.

The Swamp White Oak is a member of the White Oak and Beech family. It is a *deciduous tree.

The Swamp White Oak can be found growing along the banks of ponds, streams, lakes, low-lying wetland area and the Great Swamp. It prefers to grow in moist wet acidic soils and full sun. Because it has a 2-layer root system it grows well in areas that are dry in the summer.

The Swamp White Oak leaves are 5 to 7 inches long and have simple swallow lobes with rounded tips. They are two-colored, dark glossy green on top while the undersides are light green to white and fuzzy. In the fall the leaves turn reddish brown on top and white on the bottom. This may be how the tree got its name Quercus bicolor. The tree is monoecious, meaning that both male and female reproductive organs are on the same individual tree. In May thru June, during the development of leaves, pollen filled catkins fertilize the flower, which occurs on the same tree, long twigs (peduncle) attach to the flower, which matures into an acorn. There are usually 2 acorns on a twig. Acorns ripen from August thru October. The acorns are capable of germinating as soon as they are ripe.

The bark is light gray in color and becomes rough with ridges as the tree matures. When young the tree grows upright and oval as it matures the branches and foliage spread and the shape becomes more round.

Swamp White Oak can reach a height of 80 feet and some trees have the ability of reaching 100 feet. It has a 60-foot spread. The tree can live to be 300 to 350 years old.

Various insect larvae create oak gulls, which can be used for dyes. The tree attracts other fungus and pests but the damage is usually not serious. Leaves can get powdery mildew in the late summer and autumn.

Wildlife uses the tree as shelter. The acorns provide important food for squirrels, deer, beavers, black bear, mice, turkeys and ducks. Native Americans used acorns as a food source and a coffee substitute. They also used the Swamp Oak medicinally.

The Swamp White Oak wood is used for flooring, furniture, railroad ties, fence posts. The wood is light brown and hard, similar to the wood of the White Oak, but is not used as much as the White Oak.

*Deciduous a tree or shrub that sheds its leaves at end of growing season.

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