Ivan L. Sander
Black oak (Quercus velutina) is a common, medium-sized to large oak of the eastern and midwestern United States. It is sometimes called yellow oak, quercitron, yellowbark oak, or smoothbark oak. It grows best on moist, rich, well-drained soils, but it is often found on poor, dry sandy or heavy glacial clay hillsides where it seldom lives more than 200 years. Good crops of acorns provide wildlife with food. The wood, commercially valuable for furniture and flooring, is sold as red oak. Black oak is seldom used for landscaping.
Quercus velutina Lam.
Wet pine flatwoods.
Apr; Sep–Oct (of second year). Not seen in Shaken Creek Preserve by the senior author. Specimens seen in the vicinity: Sandy Run [Neck]: Taggart SARU 584 (WNC!). [= RAB, FNA, Weakley]
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Occurrence in North America
KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NE
NH NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN
TX VT VA WV WI ON
United States and extreme southwestern Ontario, Canada. In the United
States, black oak occurs from southwestern Maine west to southern
Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota; south through Iowa to eastern
Nebraska, eastern Kansas, central Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; and east
to northwestern Florida and Georgia .
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
14 Great Plains
-The native range of black oaks.
Black oak is a medium- to large-sized, native, deciduous tree with an
irregularly rounded crown . In a forest, the trunk is usually
branch-free for half the height of the tree . Individuals may live
150 to 200 years. On good sites, black oak may reach 150 feet (46 m) in
height and 48 inches (122 cm) in d.b.h., but most trees are 60 to 80
feet (18-24 m) tall and 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm) in d.b.h. .
Black oak has a deep taproot and deep and widespreading lateral roots
Flowers Flowers are yellow. (USDA PLANTS, 2009) The male catkins are single or often several together. They descend from a scaly bud, drooping and slender, with caducous (early dropping) bracts. Each possesses a 2-8-parted calyx, and 3-12 stamens. Female flowers are scattered or somewhat clustered. Each contains a 3-celled ovary and 3-lobed stigma and is enclosed in a bud-like scaly involucre (a collection or rosette of bracts)which develops later as the cup of the fruit which is an acorn. (Peattie, 1930) Male flowers are conspicuous and hang downward in clusters. Female flowers are inconspicuous and are tiny spikes in the axils of the new leaves. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Fruit is a light reddish brown acorn, housed in a scaly, bowl-shaped cup. (Hultman, 1978) The scales of the cup are loosely overlapping. Th cup is hemispheric, short-stalked, and pubescent (hairy), about half as high as the ovoid acorn. (Peattie, 1930) The acorns are often striped, with a shaggy cap and are lightly hairy overall. The nut is enclosed by a shaggy-scaled, top-shaped cap. The meat is yellow and bitter. (Weeks et al, 2005) Fruit are abundant. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)
Leaves are variable, tough, and leathery. They possess 5-7 bristle-tipped lobes. (Hultman, 1978) Leaf margins are lobed with the veins extending beyond them as bristle tips. Leaves can be pinnatifid (clefts reaching halfway or more to the midrib) or lobed (cleftsextending less than halfway to the midrib). There are roughly 8 principal and narrow sinuses. When young leaves are firm, brown, and pubescent. With age leaves become dark green, dull, and smooth above, and paler beneath, with pubescent veins. (Peattie, 1930) Leaves are dark green and shiny, with 5-7 bristle-tipped lobes. The sinuses may be deep or shallow. Leaves are hairy underneath. Lower canopy shade leaves may be nearly unlobed, with especially hairy undersides. Leaves on the same tree can be very different shapes, confusing identification, but typically the sinuses on the leaves deepen going up the tree. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Buds are clustered terminally. They are pointed and angles in cross section. The numerous, overlapping scales are covered with dense tan-gray hairs. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Twigs are reddish brown and smooth by maturity. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Bark is dark in color and bright orange or yellow underneath. (Hultman, 1978)The tree bears dark brown or black furrowed outer bark and orange inner bark. (Peattie, 1930) The bark is dark, nearly black, with thick, blocky, vertical ridges on the lower trunk. Bark may have "ski-tracks", but only in the upper half of the tree. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Tree is 50-60' tall. (Hultman, 1978) The tree can attain heights of 100' on good sites. (Weeks et al, 2005) At 20 years the tree attains a maximum of 25', attaining 90' at maturity. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)
Fruit the acorns are 3/4" long. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Leaves are 5-7" long. (Hultman, 1978)
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Black oak, an upland xerophytic species, can occur on all aspects and
slope positions, but tends to be more abundant on the drier southerly
and westerly aspects and on upper slopes and ridges [16,56]. Black oak
does not appear to be site-sensitive. Its occurrence is more due to
fortuitous circumstance than inherent habitat requirements .
Although it grows best on moist, rich, well-drained sites, it is
sensitive to competition on these sites and is more often found on dry,
nutrient-poor, coarse-textured soils . Black oak does not occur on
the serpentine soils of the Maryland Piedmont . It often grows on
sandy or gravelly sites or heavy glacial clay hillsides. Black oak is
found up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in the southern Appalachian Mountains
Black oak is less drought tolerant than post oak (Q. stellata), but more
tolerant than northern red oak and about as tolerant as white oak .
Its predominance on southerly and westerly aspects may be due in part to
drought tolerance. In addition, the increased solar radiation on these
sites may facilitate early establishment and eventual dominance of black
Overstory associates of black oak not mentioned in Distribution and
Occurrence include pignut hickory (Carya glabra), mockernut hickory (C.
tomentosa), bitternut hickory (C. cordiformis), shagbark hickory (C.
ovata), American elm (Ulmus americana), slippery elm (U. rubra), white
ash (Fraxinus americana), black walnut (Juglans nigra), butternut (J.
cinerea), southern red oak, scarlet oak, chinquapin oak (Q.
muehlenbergii), red maple (Acer rubrum), black cherry, and blackgum
(Nyssa sylvatica) .
Common small tree associates include sassafras, flowering dogwood
(Cornus florida), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), eastern hophornbeam
(Ostrya virginiana), redbud (Cercis canadensis), pawpaw (Asimina
triloba), downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), and American
bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) .
Common shrub associates include blueberry (Vaccinium spp.),
mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana),
beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sumac (Rhus
spp.), and Viburnum spp. .
Herbaceous plants associated with black oak in sand savannas include
little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Pennsylvania sedge (Carex
pensylvanica), and Coreopsis spp. .
Key Plant Community Associations
Black oak is a common component of many eastern and central upland
deciduous forests. Black oak also occurs in savannas in the transition
zone between the eastern deciduous forests and the western prairies.
The following published classifications list black oak as a dominant or
Deciduous forest 
Classification of forest ecosystems in Michigan 
The natural communities of South Carolina 
A classification of the deciduous forest of eastern North America 
Forest vegetation of the lower Alabama Piedmont 
Old-growth forests within the Piedmont of South Carolina 
Plant communities of the Coastal Plains of North Carolina and their
successional relations 
Ecological species groups of oak ecosystems of southeastern Michigan 
Presettlement vegetation of Lake County, Indiana 
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
14 Northern pin oak
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
45 Pitch pine
46 Eastern redcedar
51 White pine - chestnut oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
58 Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
78 Virginia pine - oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
110 Black oak
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K083 Cedar glades
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
Soils and Topography
The most widespread soils on which black oak grows are the Udalfs and Udolls (30). These soils are derived from glacial materials, sandstones, shales, and limestone and range from heavy clays to loamy sands with some having a high content of rock or chert fragments. Black oak grows best on welldrained, silty clay to loam soils.
Black oak grows on all aspects and slope positions. It grows best in coves and on middle and lower slopes with northerly and easterly aspects. It is found at elevations up to 1200 m (4,000 ft) in the southern Appalachians (6).
The most important factors determining site quality for black oak are the thickness and texture of the A horizon, texture of the B horizon, aspect, and slope position (2,4,13,20). Other factors may be important in localized areas. For example, in northwestern West Virginia increasing precipitation to 1120 mm (44 in) resulted in increased site quality; more than 1120 mm (44 in) had no further effect (2). In southern Indiana, decreasing site quality was associated with increasing slope steepness (13).
Near the limits of black oak's range, topographic factors may restrict its distribution. At the western limits black oak is often found only on north and east aspects where moisture conditions are most favorable. In southern Minnesota and Wisconsin it is usually found only on ridgetops and the lower two-thirds of south- and west-facing slopes (6).
Black oak grows best in the Central States where the climate is moderate, with an average annual temperature of 13° C (55° F), precipitation of 1020 to 1270 mm (40 to 50 in), and a frost-free season of about 180 days (6).
Foodplant / parasite
plant of Loranthus europaeus parasitises live trunk of Quercus velutina
Associated Forest Cover
Northern Forest Region
14 Northern Pin Oak
51 White Pine-Chestnut Oak
60 Beech-Sugar Maple
Central Forest Region
40 Post Oak-Blackjack Oak
42 Bur Oak
43 Bear Oak
44 Chestnut Oak
45 Pitch Pine
46 Eastern Redcedar
53 White Oak
55 Northern Red Oak
58 Yellow-Poplar-Eastern Hemlock
59 Yellow-Poplar-White Oak-Northern Red Oak
Southern Forest Region
75 Shortleaf Pine
76 Shortleaf Pine-Oak
78 Virginia Pine-Oak
79 Virginia Pine
80 Loblolly Pine-Shortleaf Pine
82 Loblolly Pine-Hardwood
Other tree associates of black oak include pignut hickory (Carya glabra), mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), bitternut hickory (C. cordiformis), and shagbark hickory (C. ovata); American elm (Ulmus americana) and slippery elm (U. rubra); white ash (Fraxinus americana); black walnut (Juglans nigra) and butternut (J. cinerea); scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), southern red oak (Q. falcata), and chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii); red maple (Acer rubrum) and sugar maple (A. saccharum); black cherry (Prunus serotina); and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) (5).
Common small tree associates of black oak include flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), redbud (Cercis canadensis), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), and American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia). Common shrubs include Vaccinium spp., mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sumac (Rhus spp.), and Viburnum spp. The most common vines are greenbrier (Smilax spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) (5).
Diseases and Parasites
Oak wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum) is a potentially serious vascular disease of black oak that is widespread throughout the eastern United States. Trees die within a few weeks after the symptoms first appear. Usually scattered individuals or small groups of trees are killed, but areas several hectares (acres) in size may be affected. The disease is spread from tree to tree through root grafts and over larger distances by sap-feeding beetles (Nitidulidae) and the small oak bark beetle (6).
Shoestring root rot (Armillaria mellea) attacks black oak and may kill trees weakened by fire, lightning, drought, insects, or other diseases. A root rot, Phytophthora cinnamomi, may kill seedlings in the nursery. Cankers caused by Strumella and Nectria species damage the holes of black oak but seldom kill trees. Foliage diseases that attack black oak are the same as those that typically attack species in the red oak group and include anthracnose (Gnomonia quercina), leaf blister (Taphrina spp.), powdery mildews (Phyllactinia corylea and Microsphaera alni), oak-pine rusts (Cronartium spp.), and leaf spots (Actinopelte dryina) (13).
Tunneling insects that attack the boles of black oak and cause serious lumber degrade include the carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae), red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus), the twolined chestnut borer (Agrilus bilineatus), the oak timberworm (Arrhenodes minutus), and the Columbian timber beetle (Corthylus columbianus) (3).
The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) feeds on foliage and is potentially the most destructive insect. Although black oaks withstood a single defoliation, two or three defoliations in successive years killed many trees in New Jersey (17). Other defoliators that attack black oak and may occasionally be epidemic are the variable oakleaf caterpillar (Heterocampa manteo), the orangestriped oakworm (Anisota senatoria), and the browntail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea).
The nut weevils (Curculio spp.), gall-forming cynipids (Callirhytis spp.), filbertworm (Melissopus latiferreanus), and acorn moth (Valentinia glandulel1a) damage black oak acorns.
Fire Management Considerations
Prescribed fire is used to control oak invasion of prairies .
Because of prolific sprouting of hardwoods, including black oak,
prescribed burning is not recommended for controlling hardwood
competition during shortleaf pine regeneration on the Cumberland Plateau
in Kentucky .
Equations for the estimation of fire-caused mortality have been
developed for black oak. In order to predict mortality, a manager needs
to know the tree d.b.h., the height of bark blackening, the width of
bark blackening 1 foot above the ground, and the season of fire. The
equation should only be applied to trees between 3 and 16 inches
(7.6-40.6 cm) in d.b.h. ]. Equations have also been developed to
predict lumber value losses due to fire wounding of black oak .
An equation has been developed to predict the size of a fire wound
on a black oak from the area of the exterior discolored bark and the
diameter of the damaged tree .
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species, including black oak, that was not available when this species review was originally written:
- Effects of surface fires in a mixed red and eastern white pine stand in Michigan
- Early postfire effects of a prescribed fire in the southern Appalachians of North Carolina
- Early postfire response of southern Appalachian Table Mountain-pitch pine stands to prescribed fires in North Carolina and Virginia
Plant Response to Fire
Black oak individuals, including seedlings, sprout from the root crown
The density of black oak stems generally increases after fire because of
sprouting. Two growing seasons after two annual fires in an oak-pine
stand in the Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky, black oak and scarlet oak
stems increased from a prefire density of approximately 1,250 stems per
acre (3,090 stems/ha) to a postfire density of approximately 1,750 stems
per acre (4,320 stems/ha) . Sprouting of top-killed black oak in
prescribed fires in the Indiana Dune National Lakeshore also increased
the shrub coverage of black oak .
More frequent fire may eventually reduce black oak sprouting, however,
because root systems are weakened. Five fires in 8 years (three in the
spring and two in the fall) reduced black oak sprouting in a black oak
sand savanna in Indiana .
Black oak acorns in the litter may survive a low-severity fire , but
no conclusive evidence of this was found in the literature.
Immediate Effect of Fire
Black oak up to pole size (about 4 inches [10.2 cm] in d.b.h.) are
easily top-killed by fire, and severe fire may even top-kill
saw-timber-sized black oak .
Multistemmed black oak clumps are more susceptible to fire than a
single-stemmed sapling because leaves and other litter get trapped in
the clump and promote a hot fire around the multiple stems .
In the eastern highlands of Connecticut, a March prescribed fire was
conducted in a black oak-black cherry forest and an oak (Quercus
spp.)-sweet birch (Betula lenta) forest. All black oak in the black
oak-black cherry forest survived the fire. In the oak-sweet birch
forest, where surface litter fire temperatures reached 600 degrees
Fahrenheit (315 deg C), about 25 percent of black oak less than 4 inches
( less than 10.2 cm) in d.b.h. were top-killed, but less than 5 percent were
root-killed. Approximately 95 percent of black oak between 4 and 12
inches (10.2-30.5 cm) survived the fire. Larger black oak (10 to 13
inches [25-32.5 cm] in d.b.h) exposed to external temperatures of 129
degrees Fahrenheit (54 deg C) for 7 minutes survived .
Prescribed fire in an oak woods in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
top-killed about 50 percent of the black oak. The litter in the oak
woods produced relatively low aboveground temperatures and total kill of
black oak was infrequent. Two areas with two and three fires during the
subsequent 4-year period averaged 3.71 and 3.65 percent total mortality
per year respectively. The unburned control averaged 2.1 percent total
mortality per year .
In an April prescribed fire in an oak savanna in southern Wisconsin,
damage to woody species (including black oak) was dependent on the type
of fuel within 12 inches (30 cm) of the stem base. Cool season grass
fuel caused more fire damage than predominantly oak leaf fuel. Dry
weight fuel load ranged from 0.60 to 0.75 ounce per square foot (200-250
g/sq m) in leaves and from 0.90 to 1.05 ounce per square foot (300-350
g/sq m) in grass .
Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker
Black oak is moderately resistant to fire . Small black oaks are
easily top-killed by fire but sprout vigorously from the root crown
. Larger black oaks can withstand low-severity surface fire because
of moderately thick basal bark. They are susceptible to basal wounding
The prevalent presettlement upland oak forests in the eastern and
central United States were associated with recurring fire. These
forests probably burned at an intermediate frequency (50 to 100 year
intervals) which promoted the dominance and stability of oak . Fire
provides opportunity for establishment of the more fire-resistant oak
species such as black oak . Black oak is characteristic as a
community dominant only where major disturbances periodically open the
canopy . In dry black oak savannas in Illinois and Wisconsin, an
age analysis of black oaks showed that recruitment of the oaks to the
canopy was related to distinct events, most likely fire. Fire top-kills
the mesic hardwood understory and allows oak sprouts to compete
Oak-hickory forest floors are usually not conducive to high-severity
fires, but fires are easily ignited. The total forest floor fuelbed
weight in a 20-year-old stand of black oak in southeast Missouri
averaged 6.4 tons per acre (14.3 t/ha), 2.0 tons per acre (4.8 t/ha) of
which was loose leaf litter. Forty-year-old stands averaged 8.3 tons of
forest floor per acre (18.6 t/ha), including 2.9 tons per acre (6.5
t/ha) of loose litter .
Because of the reduction in wildfire frequency, oak-hickory forests are
converting to more mixed mesophytic stands. Fifty-five years after a
late summer fire in south-central Connecticut, the burned area had
higher absolute and relative amounts of oak (black, white, scarlet,
chestnut, and northern red) than the adjacent unburned area . In
Indiana, late successional species (red maple, sassafras, and blackgum)
were present in a black oak-dominated community in Indiana where fire
had been suppressed. In an adjacent but remote black oak community,
late successional species were not present because fires burned longer
before being noticed and suppressed. In the more frequently burned
area, overstory trees were rarely killed by fire, and an open understory
was maintained. Where infrequent, fires killed larger trees and
promoted the formation of an understory thicket .
Black oak is restricted from the pine-scrub oak communities of the New
Jersey Pine Barrens because it does not produce viable seed at a young
enough age to become established in areas that burn every 8 to 12 years
More info for the terms: basal area, density, fire frequency, frequency, litter, succession, xeric
Facultative Seral Species
Black oak is intermediate in shade tolerance. It is more tolerant than
black cherry or shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), but less tolerant than
white oak, chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), hickories, maples (Acer spp.),
elms (Ulmus spp.), beech (Betula spp.), or blackgum. Light is required
to recruit black oak seedlings into the sapling stage; seedlings
eventually die under a closed-canopy forest [29,56].
Black oak replaces pines (Pinus spp.) on heavily cutover areas. It
succeeds sassafras and common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) on upland
old fields . In the Hudson River Valley in New York, stands
dominated by white oak, black oak, and pignut hickory occur on rocky,
nutrient-poor sites. The open canopy, less distinct vertical
stratification of canopy trees, and diverse herbaceous understory
suggest these forests gradually invade old pasture sites .
Black oaks woodlands began invading savannas in Northern Illinois 2 to 3
years after the construction of roads which acted as functional
firebreaks . In the past, the high presettlement fire frequency in
grasslands prevented black oak expansion 
The importance of black oak in many forests has declined since human
settlement. In the absence of disturbance such as fire or windthrow,
black oak is succeeded by more shade-tolerant, mesophytic species. A
decline in black oak has been documented in an old-growth oak-hickory
forest in southwestern Illinois. Black oak had been dominant in the
forest since 1821, but it decreased in density and basal area between
1956 and 1983 due to senescence. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) has
increased in the forest. It is believed that black oak originally
established on this site after the New Madrid Earthquake in 1811 or
after a hurricane shortly after the earthquake, both of which caused
much downed timber .
In the late 1700's and 1800's in Pennsylvania, massive logging to
provide wood for charcoal-fueled iron furnaces was accompanied by
wildfires. The combination of logging and fire increased the relative
dominance of oaks, including black oak. In the 20th century, fire was
suppressed and eventual logging of stands with understories dominated by
red maple, sugar maple, and black cherry accelerated the recruitment of
these mesophytic species into the canopy .
In the Hudson River valley in New York, early land surveys indicate the
white oak-black oak-hickory type was prevalent prior to forest clearing.
Since abandonment from agriculture, the type has returned but is not
nearly as important as it was. The percent occurrence of black oak in
these forests was 15.3 percent in the period before 1800 and only 4.1
percent in 1984 .
In a black oak-white oak forest in southern Wisconsin, white oak is
replacing black oak. Black oak, which is more susceptible to oak wilt
than white oak, is dying. White oak is not regenerating in the forest
but because it is a longer lived, slower growing species, it is now
replacing black oak .
Succession is slow or unlikely in some oak forests on extremely xeric or
nutrient poor sites . Blackjack oak and black oak forests on
extremely xeric, upland sites in Illinois did not exhibit signs of being
replaced by late successional species. Self-maintenance was evident as
blackjack oak and black oak were important species in the sapling and
seedling layers as well as the overstory .
Even in the absence of fire, succession towards a richer, mesophytic
forest appears slow or unlikely in a black oak-blueberry community on
the Lake Michigan sand dunes. Black oak has low nutrient requirements
and is relatively ineffective in returning nutrients to the dune surface
in its litter. The well-leached dunes remain dry and nutrient poor.
Fire aggravates these conditions and helps perpetuate black oak on these
Some of the most xeric sites of the South Carolina Piedmont are occupied
by old-growth communities of black oak, post oak, and blueridge
blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans). Although the community appears to be
in steady state, it may evolve into a hickory-dominated community in the
absence of fire .
Sexual: Black oak is monoecious. Seed production begins when the tree
is about 20 years old, with maximum production occurring between ages 40
and 75. Black oak is a consistent seed producer, with good acorn crops
every 2 to 3 years. Seed dissemination is by squirrels, mice, bluejays,
and other animals, and by gravity. Rodents and birds often cache acorns
in the soil .
Germination is hypogeal. Burial in or contact with mineral soil and
coverage with a light layer of leaves are favorable conditions for acorn
germination . In a study of black oak and white oak regeneration of
an old field in Michigan, seedlings were more likely to establish
initially in open patches because blue jays preferentially choose open
sites to cache acorns. However, seedlings that colonized open patches
were not likely to survive beyond the first several years unless the
patch was subsequently invaded by herbaceous vegetation .
Seedling growth is slow; average annual height growth of seedlings in
Missouri during a 6-year period was 2.1 inches (5.3 cm) . Seedlings
can survive drought conditions .
Vegetative: Black oak sprouts from the root collar if top-killed or
cut. Younger individuals are more likely to sprout than older
individuals. The probability that a stump with a 1-year-old sprout will
have at least one dominant or codominant sprout at age 5 is predictable
from stump diameter. The probability ranges from 1.0 for 3-inch (7.6
cm) stump diameters to 0.15 for 30-inch (76 cm) stump diameters .
Black oak has a low tolerance for multiple sprouts and tends toward the
survival of a single sprout per stump. In one study, 5, 15, and 25
years after cutting, the average number of sprouts per stump was 7.5,
2.2, and 1.0 respectively .
Seedlings often die back and sprout numerous times, thus becoming
advance regeneration. The roots of black oak saplings may be 10 to 20
years older than the tops . Sprouts grow faster than seedlings.
Average annual height growth of sprouts in Missouri during a 6-year
period was 6.1 inches (15.5 cm) . Generally, the bigger the old
stem is, the faster the height growth of its sprouts .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Reaction to Competition
Even-aged silvicultural systems satisfy the reproduction and growth requirements of black oak better than the all-aged or uneven-aged selection system (1,27). Under the selection system, black oak is unable to reproduce because of inadequate light. Stands containing black oak that are managed under the selection system will gradually be dominated by more shade-tolerant species.
Black oak responds well to release if the released trees are in the codominant or above-average intermediate crown classes. The best response is obtained if release cuttings or thinnings are begun before a stand is 30 years old. Trees in stands older than 30 years that have always been fully stocked generally have small crowns that have been restricted too long. These are unable to make efficient use of the growing space provided by release or thinnings. Thus response is not as good as in younger stands (25).
Ten years following release in an Arkansas study, diameter growth of 50-year-old black and northern red oak trees averaged 40 percent more than that of unreleased trees. Although the rate of diameter growth increased throughout the 10-year period, response was greater and more apparent ears 5-10.
Dormant buds are numerous on the holes of black oak trees. These buds may be stimulated to sprout and produce branches by mechanical pruning or by exposure to greatly increased light, as by thinning heavily or creating openings in the stand. Dominant trees are less likely to produce epicormic branches than those in the lower crown classes (6,25).
Life History and Behavior
Staminate flowers develop from leaf axils of the previous year. Catkins
emerge before or at the same time as the current year's leaves, usually
in April or May. Acorns mature in two growing seasons. The acorns
ripen from late August to October depending on geographic location, drop
in the fall, and germinate in the spring .
Stumps of black oaks sprout less frequently than those of northern red, scarlet, and chestnut oaks and with about the same frequency as those of white oak (25). A Missouri study showed that sprouting frequency for black oak stumps is related to site index, tree age, and stump diameter. Small stumps from young trees on good sites sprout most frequently while large stumps from old trees on poor sites sprout least frequently (16). Black oak stump sprouts grow rapidly: in Missouri the height of dominant and codominant stems averaged 3.5 m (11.4 ft) at age 5. The probability that a stump with a living sprout I year old will have at least one dominant or codominant sprout at age 5 is predictable from stump diameter and ranges from near 1.0 for 7.6 cm (3 in) stumps to about 0.15 for 76 cm (30 in) stumps. Black oak stump sprouts may be a valuable component of newly reproduced stands, particularly if they originate at ground level. The low-origin sprouts are less susceptible to rot entering from the parent stump than the high-origin sprouts. Many develop into trees of good quality (27).
Black oak acorns germinate in the spring following seedfall. Germination is hypogeal (25,28). Most favorable conditions for germination occur when the acorns are in contact with or buried in mineral soil and covered with a light layer of litter. Acorns on top of the litter generally dry excessively during early spring and lose their viability before temperatures are favorable for germination. The primary root generally grows vigorously following germination (6,26). Seedlings can survive droughty conditions, but growth is slow or even ceases altogether. Black oak seedlings are more drought tolerant than northern red oak seedlings and about the same as white oak seedlings (29).
Light intensity appears to be critical to the survival and growth of black oak seedlings. Light intensity under forest stands is often very low at the level of the new seedlings (about 15 cm or 6 in). In Missouri, light intensity at this level in forest stands was 10 percent or less of that in nearby open areas. The black oak seedlings in this study averaged 9 cm (3.5 in) tall at age 4, the same as they averaged at age 1 (26).
Black oak seedlings that survive seldom remain true seedlings for more than a few years because drought, low light intensity, fire, animals, or mechanical agents kill the tops. Then, one or more dormant buds near the root collar produce new sprouts. This dieback and resprouting process can occur several times; thus the roots of black oak saplings may be 10 to 20 years older than the tops (27). Growth of black oak sprouts, like that of seedlings, is slow under forest stands. In Missouri, sprouts grew only 6 cm (2.4 in) in 4 years (26).
Shoot elongation of black oak is episodic. Multiple shoot-growth flushes occur in both seedlings and sprouts when light, temperature, and moisture conditions are favorable. Only one growth flush occurs on stems growing in a shaded understory. Periods of active shoot growth are followed by distinctive rest periods, during which most of the annual root elongation occurs (22).
Seed Production and Dissemination
The number of seeds that become available for regenerating black oak may be low even in good seed years. Insects, squirrels, deer, turkey, small rodents, and birds consume many acorns. They can eat or damage a high percentage of the acorn crop in most years and essentially all of it in poor seed years (6,26).
Black oak acorns from a single tree are dispersed over a limited area by squirrels, mice, and gravity (28). The blue jay may disperse over longer distances (7).
Flowering and Fruiting
Growth and Yield
Average diameter growth of black oak for a range of ages, sites, and stand conditions in the Central States was about 5 min (0.2 in) per year for 10 years. In West Virginia, dominant black oaks grew faster in diameter than scarlet, chestnut, and white oaks but slower than northern red oak (6).
Average growing space requirements for oaks in even-aged stands in which black oak is a major component have been determined by Gingrich (9). Competition for growing space in these stands begins at the level of stocking where the total available space is equal to the total of the maximum requirement of all the trees in the stand. This level of stocking is about 60 percent of the maximum stocking a site can support and is the lowest level of stocking at which the stand will fully utilize the site. The maximum amount of growing space a black oak tree can use is 33.3 m³ (358 ft³) for a tree 20 cm (8 in) in d.b.h. and 115 m³ (1,233 ft³) for a tree 51 cin (20 in) in d.b.h. The minimum growing space required for trees is 13.5 m² (145 ft²) and 64.8 m² (697 ft²), respectively.
Yields of unthinned, 80-year-old stands with black oak as a major component range from 75.6 m³ /ha (5,400 fbm/acre) on poor sites (site index 16.8 in (55 ft) at base age 50 years) to 175.0 m³ /ha (12,500 fbm/acre) on good sites (site index 22.9 in or 75 ft). Yields can be increased substantially by thinning regularly. At age 70, stands that are first thinned at age 20, with subsequent thinning at about 10-year intervals, yield from 102.9 m³/ha (7,350 fbm/acre) on poor sites to 278.3 m³ /ha (19,880/acre) on good sites (10).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Black oak hybridizes readily with other species in the subgenus Erythrobalanus. The following named hybrids with Quercus velutina are recognized (19): Q. coccinea (Q. x fontana Laughlin); Q. ellipsoidalis (Q. x palaeolithicola Trel.); Q. falcata (Q. x pinetorum Moldenke); (Q. x willdenowiana (Dippel) Zabel); Q. ilicifolia (Q. x rehderi Trel.); Q. imbricaria (Q. x leana Nutt.); Q. incana (Q. x podophylla Trel.); Q. marilandica (Q. x bushii Sarg.); Q. nigra (Q. x demarei Ashe); Q. palustris (Q. x vaga Palmer & Steyerm.); Q. phellos (Q. x filialis Little); Q. rubra (Q. x hawkinsiae Sudw.); Q. shumardii (Q. x discreta Laughlin).
Barcode data: Quercus velutina
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Quercus velutina
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Forest managers have noticed a decrease in black oak frequency in newly
regenerated stands after clearcutting, especially on good sites. The
reason for the decrease is the inability of oak seedlings to compete
successfully with faster growing species in the absence of fire. Oak
seedlings that are repeatedly top-killed develop well-developed root
systems, and the sprouts (advance regeneration) grow faster than true
seedlings and are better able to compete successfully. To regenerate
oaks successfully, advance regeneration must be 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.5 m)
tall before the overstory is removed. Successful regeneration of a
mixed oak forest can be accomplished by clearcutting only if there are
adequate numbers of large advance regeneration . Otherwise, a
shelterwood silviculture system is recommended in order to allow advance
oak regeneration to grow [55,56].
In a study designed to determine the optimum light levels necessary for
shelterwood regeneration, there was no significant difference in black
oak diameter and height growth between 20 and 94 percent transmission of
full light. Black oak diameter and height growth was poor under 8
percent of full light, which is similar to uncut stands. It was
recommended that shelterwoods be cut to permit 20 to 60 percent light
In a shelterwood cut in Arkansas, understory control (cutting of nonoak
stems and spraying stumps with 2,4-D and picloram immediately after
cutting) resulted in an increase in the number of black oak, white oak
(Quercus alba), and northern red oak regeneration in the 1.1 to 5 foot
(0.3-1.5 m) height class and the over 5 foot (> 1.5 m) class . The
application of nitrogen fertilizer in a shelterwood cut did not
stimulate the growth of black oak, white oak, or northern red oak
advance regeneration. The fertilizer may have even decreased the
drought tolerance of oaks. During a drought in 1980, more seedlings
died on fertilized plots than on nonfertilized plots .
The use of a shelterwood system does not guarantee the continued
regeneration of black oak. On a sandy loam site in Michigan, black oak,
which formed two-thirds of the original stand, was reduced 50 percent
during the 20-year period following the initiation of a shelterwood
harvest. While the shelterwood system was better for oak regeneration
than group or single tree selection systems, the regenerated stand will
have more red maple (Acer rubrum), black cherry (Prunus serotina),
sassafras (Sassafras albidum), dogwood (Cornus spp.), and hickory (Carya
spp.) and less black oak than the original stand .
Once black oak is regenerated on a site, thinning of a stand can
increase the growth of remaining trees. Thirty-two-year-old black oaks
showed 10 to 12 years of increased differential diameter growth after
Black oak is susceptible to a number of diseases and insects. Oak wilt,
caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum, is a vascular disease that
is spread by sap-feeding beetles (Nitidulidae spp.), oak bark beetle
(Pseudopityophthorus minutissimum), and natural root grafts. The tree
usually dies within several weeks after the symptoms of wilting,
bronzing, and premature leaf defoliation appear .
Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), an introduced species, defoliates black
oak, and two or three successive defoliations can kill a tree. It is
potentially the most destructive insect to black oak .
Black oaks that are stressed from drought, gypsy moth defoliation, old
age, fire, poor site conditions, or other factors often succumb to
secondary agents such as twolined chestnut borer (Agrilus bilineatus),
Hypoxylon canker (Hypoxylon mammatum), and shoestring root rot
(Armillaria mellea). This scenario, in which a primary agent stresses
the tree and a secondary agent kills it, is known as "oak decline" and
is responsible for considerable black oak mortality. For instance,
between 1911 and 1921, 46 percent of black oaks in coastal regions of
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine died when gypsy moth defoliation
and drought was followed by twolined chestnut borer and shoestring root
rot attack . Based on site factors, a general stand classification
of mortality risk from oak decline has been developed .
Foliage diseases include anthracnose (Gnomonia quercina), leaf blister
(Taphrina spp.), powdery mildews (Phyllactinia corylea and Microsphaera
alni), oak-pine rusts (Cronartium spp.), and leaf spots (Actinopelte
dryina). A root rot, Phytophthora cinnamomi, kills seedlings in
nurseries. Strumella spp. and Nectria spp. cause bole cankers .
Tunneling insects that attack black oak boles include carpenterworm
(Prionoxystus robiniae), red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus), oak
timberworm (Arrhenodes minutes), and Columbian timber beetle (Corthylus
columbianus). Oakleaf caterpillar (Heterocampa manteo), orange
striped oakworm (Anisota senatoria), and browntail moth (Euproctis
chrysorrhoea) defoliate black oak. Acorns are damaged by nut weevils
(Curculio spp.), gall-forming cynipids (Callirhytis spp.), filbertworm
(Melissopus latiferreanus), and acorn moth (Valentinia glandulella)
Black oaks that had recently invaded a prairie in Illinois were
successfully removed by cutting stems (mostly smaller than 4 inches
[10.2 cm] in d.b.h.) and painting stumps with 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T mixed
with fuel oil to prevent sprouting .
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
extraction worthwhile. A yellow dye, suitable for coloring natural
fibers, can be obtained by boiling the inner bark .
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
Wisconsin and Iowa. The soil has high concentrations of lead and zinc,
but soil pH is not very low . Minor amounts of black oak were
planted on Indiana surface mines between 1928 and 1975 , but its
success on these sites has not been documented in the literature.
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
squirrels, mice, voles, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey. In
Illinois, fox squirrels have been seen feeding on black oak catkins .
Black oak has a high cavity value for wildlife . Trunk cavities in
live black oaks were important nest sites for the northern flicker on
Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Mean nest height was approximately 3.3
feet (1 m) above the ground .
Wood Products Value
is sold as "red oak" and used for furniture, flooring, and interior
finishing [25,56]. It is also used for barrels and railroad ties .
0.19 percent calcium, and 0.10 percent phosphorus .
In landscaping the tree is hardy through Zone 3, though it is rarely offered by nurseries. Black oak tolerates salt, but does only moderately well in high ozone areas. It does not survive well in droughty conditions despite being a dry-site species. (Weeks et al, 2005)
Quercus velutina, the eastern black oak or more commonly known as simply black oak, is an oak in the red oak (Quercus sect. Lobatae) group of oaks. It is native to eastern North America from southern Ontario south to northern Florida and southern Maine west to northeastern Texas. It is a common tree in the Indiana Dunes and other sandy dunal ecosystems along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Quercus velutina was previously known as yellow oak due to the yellow pigment in its inner bark, however nowadays this name is usually reserved for Chinkapin oak. It is a close relative of the western black oak (Quercus kelloggii) found in western North America.
In the northern part of its range, black oak is a relatively small tree, reaching a height of 20–25 m (65–80 ft) and a diameter of 90 cm (35 in), but it grows larger in the south and center of its range, where heights of up to 42 m (140 ft) are known. Black oak is well known to readily hybridize with other members of the red oak (Quercus sect. Lobatae) group of oaks being one parent in at least a dozen different named hybrids.
The leaves of the black oak are alternately arranged on the twig and are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long with 5-7 bristle tipped lobes separated by deep U-shaped notches. The upper surface of the leaf is a shiny deep green, the lower is yellowish-brown. There are also stellate hairs on the underside of the leaf that grow in clumps.
Sun leaves have very deep u-shaped sinuses.
The buds are velvety and covered in white hair.
Soil and topography
In southern New England, black oak grows on cool, moist soils. Elsewhere it occurs on warm, moist soils.
The most widespread soils on which black oak grows are the Udalfs and Udolls. These soils are derived from glacial materials, sandstones, shales, and limestone and range from heavy clays to loamy sands with some having a high content of rock or chert fragments. Black oak grows best on well drained, silty clay to loam soils.
Black oak grows on all aspects and slope positions. It grows best in coves and on middle and lower slopes with northerly and easterly aspects. It is found at elevations up to 1200 m (4,000 ft) in the southern Appalachians.
The most important factors determining site quality for black oak are the thickness and texture of the A horizon, texture of the B horizon, aspect, and slope position. Other factors may be important in localized areas. For example, in northwestern West Virginia increasing precipitation to 1120 mm (44 in) resulted in increased site quality; more than 1120 mm (44 in) had no further effect. In southern Indiana, decreasing site quality was associated with increasing slope steepness.
Near the limits of black oak's range, topographic factors may restrict its distribution. At the western limits black oak is often found only on north and east aspects where moisture conditions are most favorable. In southern Minnesota and Wisconsin it is usually found only on ridge tops and the lower two-thirds of south- and west-facing slopes.
Associated forest cover
Black Oak is the forest cover type that designates pure stands of the species or those in which it makes up more than 50 percent of the stand basal area. Black oak is a major associate in White Oak–Black Oak–Northern Red Oak.
Other tree associates of black oak include pignut hickory (Carya glabra), mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), bitternut hickory (C. cordiformis), and shagbark hickory (C. ovata); American elm (Ulmus americana) and slippery elm (U. rubra); white ash (Fraxinus americana); black walnut (Juglans nigra) and butternut (J. cinerea); scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), southern red oak (Q. falcata), and chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii); red maple (Acer rubrum) and sugar maple (A. saccharum); black cherry (Prunus serotina); and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica).
Common small tree associates of black oak include flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), redbud (Cercis canadensis), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), and American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia). Common shrubs include Vaccinium spp., mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sumac (Rhus spp.), and Viburnum spp. The most common vines are greenbrier (Smilax spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
Flowers and fruiting
Black oak is monoecious. The staminate flowers develop from leaf axils of the previous year and the catkins emerge before or at the same time as the current leaves in April or May. The pistillate flowers are borne in the axils of the current year's leaves and may be solitary or occur in two- to many-flowered spikes. The fruit, an acorn that occurs singly or in clusters of two to five, is about one-third enclosed in a scaly cup and matures in 2 years. Black oak acorns are brown when mature and ripen from late August to late October, depending on geographic location.
Seed production and dissemination
In forest stands, black oak begins to produce seeds at about age 20 and reaches optimum production at 40 to 75 years. It is a consistent seed producer with good crops of acorns every 2 to 3 years. In Missouri, the average number of mature acorns per tree was generally higher than for other oaks over a 5-year period, but the number of acorns differed greatly from year to year and from tree to tree within the same stand.
The number of seeds that become available for regenerating black oak may be low even in good seed years. Insects, squirrels, deer, turkey, small rodents, and birds consume many acorns. They can eat or damage a high percentage of the acorn crop in most years and essentially all of it in poor seed years.
Black oak acorns from a single tree are dispersed over a limited area by squirrels, mice, and gravity. The blue jay may disperse over longer distances.
Response to competition
Black oak is classed as intermediate in tolerance to shade. It is less tolerant than many of its associates such as white and chestnut oaks, hickories, beech (Fagus grandifolia), maples, elm, and blackgum. However it is more tolerant than yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), black cherry, and shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). It is about the same as northern red oak and scarlet oak. Seedlings usually die within a few years after being established under fully stocked over stories. Most black oak sprouts under mature stands develop crooked stems and flat-topped or misshapen crowns. After the over story is removed, only the large stems are capable of competing successfully. Seedlings are soon overtopped. The few that survive usually remain in the intermediate crown class.
Even-aged silvicultural systems satisfy the reproduction and growth requirements of black oak better than the all-aged or uneven-aged selection system. Under the selection system, black oak is unable to reproduce because of inadequate light. Stands containing black oak that are managed under the selection system will gradually be dominated by more shade-tolerant species.
Dormant buds are numerous on the boles of black oak trees. These buds may be stimulated to sprout and produce branches by mechanical pruning or by exposure to greatly increased light, as by thinning heavily or creating openings in the stand. Dominant trees are less likely to produce epicormic branches than those in the lower crown classes.
Wildfires seriously damage black oak trees by killing the cambium at the base of the trees. This creates an entry point for decay fungi. The end result is loss of volume because of heart rot. Trees up to pole size are easily killed by fire and severe fires may even kill saw timber. Many of the killed trees sprout and form a new stand. However, the economic loss may be large unless at least some of it can be salvaged.
Oak wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum) is a potentially serious vascular disease of black oak that is widespread throughout the eastern United States. Trees die within a few weeks after the symptoms first appear. Usually scattered individuals or small groups of trees are killed, but areas several hectares in size may be affected. The disease is spread from tree to tree through root grafts and over larger distances by sap-feeding beetles (Nitidulidae) and the small oak bark beetle.
Shoestring root rot (Armillaria mellea) attacks black oak and may kill trees weakened by fire, lightning, drought, insects, or other diseases. A root rot, Phytophthora cinnamomi, may kill seedlings in the nursery. Cankers caused by Strumella and Nectria species damage the holes of black oak but seldom kill trees. Foliage diseases that attack black oak are the same as those that typically attack species in the red oak group and include anthracnose (Gnomonia quercina), leaf blister (Taphrina spp.), powdery mildews (Phyllactinia corylea and Microsphaera alni), oak-pine rusts (Cronartium spp.), and leaf spots (Actinopelte dryina).
Tunneling insects that attack the boles of black oak and cause serious lumber degrade include the carpenter worm (Prionoxystus robiniae), red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus), the twolined chestnut borer (Agrilus bilineatus), the oak timber worm (Arrhenodes minutus), and the Columbian timber beetle (Corthylus columbianus).
The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) feeds on foliage and is potentially the most destructive insect. Although black oaks withstood a single defoliation, two or three defoliations in successive years kill many trees. Other defoliators that attack black oak and may occasionally be epidemic are the variable oak leaf caterpillar (Heterocampa manteo), the orange striped oakworm (Anisota senatoria), and the brown tail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea).
Named hybrids involving black oak
- Quercus × bushii (Quercus marilandica × Q. velutina) – Bush's oak
- Quercus × cocksii (Quercus laurifolia × Q. velutina) – Cocks' oak
- Quercus × demarei (Quercus nigra × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × discreta (Quercus shumardii × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × filialis (Quercus phellos × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × fontana (Quercus coccinea × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × hawkinsiae (Quercus rubra × Q. velutina) – Hawkin's oak
- Quercus × leana (Quercus imbricaria × Q. velutina) – Lea's oak
- Quercus × palaeolithicola (Quercus ellipsoidalis × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × podophylla (Quercus incana × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × rehderi (Quercus ilicifolia × Q. velutina) – Rehder's oak
- Quercus × vaga (Quercus palustris × Q. velutina)
- Quercus × willdenowiana (Quercus falcata × Q. velutina) – Willdenow's oak
Obsolete scientific name
An obsolete name is Quercus tinctoria. New International Encyclopedia
- "Quercus velutina Lam.". Na.fs.fed.us. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- A. Martin, and Z. Herbert. 1987. A Golden Guide Trees
- The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
- Schafale, M. P. and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
Native Americans used Quercus velutina medicinally for indigestion, chronic dysentery, mouth sores, chills and fevers, chapped skin, hoarseness, milky urine, lung trouble, sore eyes, and as a tonic, an antiseptic, and an emetic (D. E. Moerman 1986).
Quercus velutina reportedly hybridizes with Q . coccinea , Q . ellipsoidalis (= Q . × paleolithicola Trelease), Q . falcata [= Q . × willdenowiana (Dippel) Zabel] (= Q . × pinetorum Moldenke)], Q . ilicifolia (= Q . × rehderi Trelease), Q . imbricaria (= Q . × leana Nuttall), Q . incana , Q . laevis , and Q . laurifolia (= Q . × cocksii Sargent, although E. J. Palmer  challenged the validity of this claim), Q . marilandica , Q . nigra , Q . palustris (= Q . × vaga E. J. Palmer & Steyermark), Q . phellos (= Q . × filialis Little), Q . rubra , Q . shumardii , and possibly Q . arkansana (D. M. Hunt 1989).
Names and Taxonomy
The currently accepted scientific name of black oak is Quercus velutina
Lam. . It has been placed within the subgenus Erythrobalanus, or
red (black) oak group [51,56]. The following rarely used forms have
been distinguished on the basis of leaf lobe variation and pubescence
Q. v. f. macrophylla (Dippel) Trel.
Q. v. f. dilanianta Trel.
Q. v. f. pagodaeformis Trel.
There appears to be complete integration between the forms . Some
northern populations of black oak in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan
have smaller acorns with less cup cover, lighter inner bark, smaller
winter buds, and a more branching growth form than populations in
southern Indiana . Voss  suggests that these may be hybrids
between black oak and northern red oak (Q. rubra) or scarlet oak (Q.
Black oak hybridizes with the following species [36,56]:
x Q. coccinea (scarlet oak): Q. X fontana Laughlin
x Q. ellipsoidalis (northern pin oak): Q. X palaeolithicola Trel.
x Q. falcata (southern red oak): Q. X willdenowiana (Dippel) Zabel
Q. X pinetorum Moldenke
x Q. ilicifolia (bear oak): Q. X rehderi Trel.
x Q. imbricaria (shingle oak): Q. X leana Nutt.
x Q. incana (bluejack oak): Q. X podophylla Trel.
x Q. marilandica (blackjack oak): Q. X bushii Sarg.
x Q. nigra (water oak): Q. X demarei Ashe
x Q. palustris (pin oak): Q. X vaga Palmer & Steyerm.
x Q. phellos (willow oak): Q. X filialis Little
x Q. rubra (northern red oak): Q. X hawkinsiae Sudw.
x Q. shumardii (Shumard oak): Q. X discreta Laughlin
yellow butt oak
Quercus leiodermis Ashe
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