white oak

(Quercus alba)

Conservation Status
white oak
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


White oak is a slow growing, deciduous tree rising on a single trunk from a deep, fibrous root system with well-developed, tapered laterals. It is very long lived, often surviving 500 to 600 years. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 50 to 70 tall and up to 40 in diameter, though individuals can reach 100 in height.

In open areas the crown is irregular and widespread with many gnarled and twisted, widely spreading branches. The trunk is stocky and is distinct well into the crown. In forests the crown is upright and oval.

The bark on mature trees is relatively thin and ashy gray, with irregular, scaly blocks on smaller stems or narrow flat-topped ridges and shallow furrows on larger stems.

The twigs are moderately stout. They are green to reddish-green and hairy when young, becoming gray and hairless as they age. Terminal buds are dark reddish-brown, hairless, egg-shaped, and to 3 16 long. They are round, not angled, in cross section. They appear in a cluster at the end of the twig. Lateral buds diverge from the twig.

The leaves are alternate, oblong to egg-shaped in outline, 4 to 6¾ long, and 2 to 4¾ wide. They are on hairless or almost hairless, to 1 long leaf stalks. The leaf blade is narrowly wedge-shaped or angled at the base and rounded at the tip. There are 2 or 3 often narrow primary lobes separated by narrow, shallow or deep sinuses and 0 to 5 smaller, secondary lobes per side. The deepest sinuses extend 50% to 95% of the way to the midrib. The upper surface is green, dull or shiny, and hairless. The lower surface is light green, hairless or with a few reddish, appressed hairs along the main veins. In autumn the leaves turn yellow, red, or purplish-brown.

Male and female flowers are borne on the same branch. Male flowers are in slender, greenish, 1¼ to 3 long catkins that hang downward from buds on branchlets of the previous year. Female flowers are bright green and appear singly or in clusters of 2 or 3 on a short stalk rising from leaf axils on branchlets of the current year. The flowers appear after the leaves in early to late May.

The fruit is an ellipsoidal or egg-shaped, to 1 long, 7 16 to wide acorn. It occurs singly or in clusters of 2 or 3 on a short, stout stalk. A scaly, broadly bowl-shaped cup encloses ¼ to of the lower part of the nut. The scales on the cup have a prominent, warty bump and the tips of the scales are free. The kernel is light brown. It ripens in mid-August to late September of the first year.




50 to 70




The champion white oak in Minnesota is on private property near Belle Plaine, in Scott County. In 2002 it was measured at 72 tall and of 201 in circumference (64 in diameter), with a crown spread of 84.


Flower Color




Similar Species


Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa) bark is thick and deeply furrowed. The branchlets have corky ridges. The lateral are closely appressed to the twig. The leaves are variable in shape and often have a large terminal lobe. The acorn cup encloses ½ to or more of the nut, and has a fringe of awns along the rim.


Moist to moderately dry; very drought tolerant. Deciduous forests. Moderately shade tolerant.




May to early June


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fagales (beeches, oaks, walnuts, and allies)  


Fagaceae (beech)  
  Subfamily Fagoideae  


Quercus (oak)  
  Subgenus Quercus  
  Section Quercus (white oak)  

Subordinate Taxa






Quercus alba var. subcaerulea

Quercus alba var. subflavea


Common Names


white oak













A slim, cylindrical, drooping cluster of many flowers. The flowers have no petals and are either male or female but not both.

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


    white oak      


    white oak      


    white oak      



  Quercus alba
Blake C. Willson
  Quercus alba  


  White Oak
  White Oak  
  Quercus alba - White Oak
Virens (Latin for greening)
  Quercus alba - White Oak  

Fagaceae - Beech Family.

A New York City street tree native to North America.

For a description of leaf identification features of White Oak, the flagship member of the White Oak Group, please consult:

  White oak
Jim Hamilton

Uploaded on Jun 20, 2008

A brief species overview of white oak (Quercus alba).




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Trees with Don Leopold - white oak

Uploaded on Oct 21, 2011

  Differences Between White Oak and Red Oak Trees for Whitetail Deer

Published on Aug 21, 2012

Special guest and good friend, Brent Sawyer from Sawyer Consulting shares with us a wealth of knowledge on how to tell the difference between different Red and White Oak trees, and how they benefit deer.

Have fun, be safe, shoot straight!

  Red Oak vs White Oak
Windwalker's Outdoor Channel

Published on Aug 29, 2014

Here is a video showing how to tell the difference between red oak and white oak. Most deer hunters know that deer prefer white oak acorns over red oak acorns. Here is how to tell the difference so you can find a better place to hunt.

  White Oak Tree
Pat Rick

Uploaded on Sep 9, 2009


White Oak Tree is a great tree plant to pass down to generations. The quick growing shade tree will be bring hours of entertainment. Plant a White Oak Tree today.

  White Oak Shade Tree

Uploaded on Dec 12, 2009







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