Industry: The wood of swamp white oak is light brown, close-grained, heavy, and hard. It is similar to that of white oak (Q. alba) and usually is cut and sold under that name, but the amount of lumbered swamp white oak is a small fraction of the total for ‘white oak.’ Also, because the lateral branches of swamp white oak tend to persist (compared to white oak), the wood is knottier and less valuable. The wood is used for furniture, cabinets, veneers, interior finishing, and flooring, as well as for boxes, crates, fence posts, railroad ties, and beams and boards for general construction. As in white oak, the wood provides tight cooperage and was once widely used in making barrels and kegs.
Conservation: Swamp white oak is planted on highway rights-of-way and is frequently used as a shade tree for large lawns, golf courses, parks, and naturalized areas. The crown shape and bi-colored leaves (dark above, lighter beneath) are attractive features; fall color is yellow, with occasional red-purple. The trees can grow well in areas that are dry, poorly drained and wet, or even occasionally flooded, and they will tolerate significant soil compaction.
Wildlife: Trees of swamp white oak provide cover for birds and mammals. The acorns are sweet and are an important food for wildlife such as squirrels, mice, white-tailed deer, beaver, black bear, and a variety of birds, including ducks and turkey.
Ethnobotanic: Native Americans and pioneers have eaten the acorns raw or cooked. They have been ground into a powder and used as a thickening in stews etc or mixed with cereals for making bread. Roasted acorns have been ground and used as a coffee substitute. Bitterness of the tannins is removed by leaching in running water.
Oak galls, caused by the activity of the larvae of various insects, can be used as a source of tannin and dye. They also are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of hemorrhages, chronic diarrhea, and dysentery. Some Native Americans used swamp white oak to treat cholera, broken bones, and consumption. Mulch of the dead leaves is reported to repel slugs, grubs, and various insects.
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