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Overview

Brief Summary

Fagaceae -- Beech family

    J. A. Vozzo

    Water oak (Quercus nigra), sometimes called possum oak or  spotted oak, is commonly found along southeastern watercourses  and lowlands on silty clay and loamy soils. This medium-sized  rapid-growing tree is often abundant as second growth on cutover  lands. It is also planted widely as a street and shade tree in  southern communities.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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J. A. Vozzo

Source: Silvics of North America

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Water oak occurs on the Southeastern Coastal Plain from southern New
Jersey and Delaware to southern Florida and west to eastern Texas. It
occurs north along the Mississippi Valley to southeastern Oklahoma,
Arkansas, Missouri, and southwestern Tennessee [50].
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Occurrence in North America

AL AR FL GA LA MD MS MO NJ NC
OK SC TN TX VA

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Water oak is found along the Coastal Plain from southern New  Jersey and Delaware south to southern Florida; west to eastern  Texas; and north in the Mississippi Valley to southeastern  Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and southwestern Tennessee (3).

   
  -The native range of water oak.


  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

J. A. Vozzo

Source: Silvics of North America

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Ala., Ark., Del., Fla., Ga., Ky., La., Md., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: tree

Water oak is a medium-sized tree with glabrous twigs, membranous leaves,
and a straight, slender trunk. On a good site, water oak can reach 105
feet (32 m) in height and attain 6.5 feet (2 m) in d.b.h. It is
semievergreen in warmer parts of its range but completely deciduous in
other areas [10,43]. Water oak has a shallow, spreading rooting habit
[50].
  • 10. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 43. Simpson, Benny J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Austin, TX: Texas Monthly Press. 372 p. [11708]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Description

Trees , deciduous or tardily deciduous, to 30 m. Bark grayish black, fissures irregular, shallow, inner bark pinkish. Twigs dark red-brown, 1.5-2.5 mm diam., glabrous. Terminal buds reddish brown, ovoid, 3-6.5 mm, puberulent throughout, occasionally densely pubescent on apical 2/3. Leaves: petiole 2-9 mm, glabrous. Leaf blade distinctly obtrullate, rarely elliptic or merely obovate, widest near apex, 30-120(-160) × 15-60(-70) mm, base attenuate or cuneate, rarely rounded, margins entire with 1 apical awn or with 2-3 shallow lobes and 2-5 awns (leaves on juvenile or 2d-flush growth may be deeply lobed with more awns), apex obtuse to blunt or rounded; surfaces abaxially glabrous except for minute or conspicuous axillary tufts of tomentum, veins rarely raised, adaxially glabrous with secondary veins somewhat impressed. Acorns biennial; cup saucer-shaped, 2.5-5.5 mm high × 10-18 mm wide, covering 1/4 nut or less, outer surface puberulent, inner surface sparsely to uniformly pubescent, scale tips tightly appressed, acute; nut broadly ovoid, 9.5-14 × 9.5-14.5 mm, often faintly striate, glabrate, scar diam. 6-11.5 mm.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Quercus nana Willdenow; Q. nigra var. tridentifera Sargent; Q. uliginosa Wangenheim
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: cover, swamp

Water oak grows on levees, high ridges, and elevated margins of swamps,
rivers, and hydric hammocks which flood deeply and frequently but drain
rapidly because of relief [6,12,20,37,49]. Water oak will also grow on
uplands to about 1,000 feet (300 m) in elevation where soils remain
moist [10]. Water oak grows well on better drained silty clay or loamy
soils and poorly on poorly drained clay soils. It grows primarily on
Inceptisols [50].

Water oak is weakly to moderately tolerant of seasonal flooding. It can
survive up to several months of flooded soil, but mortality is high if
this is a yearly occurrence. Generally, water oak is tolerant of
several weeks of flooding each growing season [3,7].

In addition to overstory associates mentioned in SAF cover types, common
associates of water oak include Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii), white
oak (Q. alba), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), pecan (Carya
illinoensis), winged elm (Ulmus alata), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica),
white ash (Fraxinus americana), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera),
southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), flowering dogwood (Cornus
florida), rough-leaf dogwood (C. drummondii), honeylocust (Gleditsia
triacanthos), Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana), hawthorn
(Crataegus spp.), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), swamp privet
(Forestiera acuminata), spruce pine (Pinus glabra) [50].
  • 10. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 3. Allen, James A.; Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1989. Bottomland hardwood reforestation in the lower Mississippi Valley. Slidell, LA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Research Center; Stoneville, MS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experimental Station. 28 p. [15293]
  • 7. Conner, William H.; Brody, Michael. 1989. Rising water levels and the future of southeastern Louisiana swamp forests. Estuaries. 12(4): 318-323. [13058]
  • 12. Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Swamps. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J., eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Press: 281-322. [17392]
  • 20. Hook, Donal D. 1978. Management of wetland hardwoods for timber production. In: Balmer, William E., ed. Proceedings--soil moisure...site productivity symposium; 1977 November 1-3; Myrtle Beach, SC. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Area, State and Private Forestry: 237-243. [4267]
  • 37. Lacey, John; Husby, Peter; Handl, Gene. 1990. Observations on spotted and diffuse knapweed invasion into ungrazed bunchgrass communities in western Montana. Rangelands. 12(1): 30-32. [11390]
  • 49. Vince, Susan W.; Humphrey, Stephen R.; Simons, Robert W. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: A community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. 82 p. [17976]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]
  • 6. Christensen, Norman L. 1981. FIRE REGIMES in southeastern ecosystems. In: Mooney, H. A.; Bonnicksen, T. M.; Christensen, N. L.; [and others]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the term: natural

Water oak occurs primarily in bottomland forests. The following
published classifications list water oak as a dominant species:

The natural communities of South Carolina [33]
Forest vegetation of the lower Alabama Piedmont [16]
Eastern deciduous forest [52]
Forest associations in the uplands of the lower Gulf Coastal Plain [36]
  • 16. Goodrum, Phil D.; Reid, Vincent H. 1958. Deer browsing in the longleaf pine belt. In: Proceedings, 58th annual meeting of the Society of American Foresters; [Date of meeting unknown]
  • 33. Nelson, John B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina. Columbia, SC: South Carolina Wildlife & Marine Resources Department. 54 p. [15578]
  • 36. Pessin, L. J. 1933. Forest associations in the uplands of the lower Gulf Coastal Plain (longleaf pine belt). Ecology. 14(1): 1-14. [12389]
  • 52. Waggoner, Gary S. 1975. Eastern deciduous forest, Vol. 1: Southeastern evergreen and oak-pine region. Natural History Theme Studies No. 1, NPS 135. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 206 p. [16103]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the terms: hardwood, swamp

70 Longleaf pine
74 Cabbage palmetto
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
83 Longleaf pine - slash pine
84 Slash pine
85 Slash pine - hardwood
88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak
89 Live oak
91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
92 Sweetgum - willow oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
94 Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm
104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
111 South Florida slash pine

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

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):

FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K098 Northern floodplain forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest

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Soils and Topography

Water oak appears on a wide variety of sites ranging from wet  bottom lands to well-drained uplands. Best development and  highest quality are found on the better-drained silty clay or  loamy soils on high flats or ridges of alluvial stream bottoms.  Water oaks are commonly found on soils of the order Inceptisols  (9). On low flats with poorly drained clay soils, tree form and  quality are poor. Water oak can survive on moist upland sites.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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J. A. Vozzo

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

Water oak grows well along small streams or moist upland soils  with 1270 to 1520 mm (50 to 60 in) annual rainfall during the  frost-free period. Annual snowfall over the range varies from 0  to 50 cm (0 to 20 in) with 200 to 260 frost-free days. Summers of  the southern-central range are warm and dry. July high  temperatures vary from 21° to 46° C (70° to 115°  F) and January low temperatures from 2° to -29° C (35°  to -20° F) (7).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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J. A. Vozzo

Source: Silvics of North America

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Mesic alluvial and lowland sites, also barrens, dunes, hammocks, and low ridges to steep slopes; 0-450m.
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Associations

Associated Forest Cover

Water oak is associated with the following tree species: willow  oak (Quercus phellos), laurel oak (Q. laurifolia),  Nuttall oak (Q. nuttallii), cherrybark oak (Q.  falcata), white oak (Q. alba), swamp chestnut oak  (Q. michauxii), American beech (Fagus grandifolia),  sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), pecan (Carya  illinoensis), American elm (Ulmus americana), slippery  elm (U. rubra), winged elm (U. alata), blackgum  (Nyssa sylvatica), green ash (Fraxinus  pennsylvanica), white ash (F. americana), yellow-poplar  (Liriodendron tulipifera), southern magnolia (Magnolia  grandiflora), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), roughleaf  dogwood (C. drummondii), honeylocust (Gleditsia  triacanthos), Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana),  hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), American hornbeam  (Carpinus caroliniana), sugarberry (Celtis  laevigata), swamp privet (Forestiera acuminata), as  well as several softwoods including spruce pine (Pinus  glabra), loblolly pine (P. taeda), longleaf  pine (P. palustris), and slash pine (P. elliottii)  (6).

    Water oak is classified as a bottom-land forest cover type Willow  Oak-Water Oak-Diarnondleaf Oak (Society of American Foresters  Type 88) (6). It is also an associated species in Live  Oak (Type 89) and Sweetbay-Swamp Tupelo-Redbay (Type 104).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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J. A. Vozzo

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Natural enemies of water oak are  primarily insects and microorganisms (2,7,8). Insects include  trunk borers (Enaphalodes sp. and Prionoxystus sp.)  and leaf hoppers (Erythroneura sp.). The more noticeable  diseases include cone rusts (Cronartium spp.), root rot  (Ganoderma curtisii), and trunk canker and heart rot  caused by a variety of organisms. Additionally, water oak is  susceptible to parasitism by mistletoe (Phoradendron  flavescens). Herbicides such as 2,4,5-T and picloram  compounds are toxic to water oak. It is also highly susceptible  to air pollution, probably to sulfur dioxide in particular.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

J. A. Vozzo

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fuel, fuel moisture

Hardwoods growing within a pine forest are often controlled with
prescribed fire. Water oaks up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in d.b.h. are
top-killed and sprouts kept small and controllable with prescribed
winter fires. Summer fires are also effective but are more detrimental
to the wildlife food supply [5]. Herbicides combined with fire can be
used to eradicate larger water oaks [51].

Because water oak leaves and habitat are often moist, fuels should be
allowed to dry at least 3 weeks following a rain of 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) or
more. Some fires will not carry even under ideal conditions of less
than 4 percent fuel moisture, 20 to 30 percent relative humidity, and 2
miles (3.2 km) per hour winds within the stand [42].

Burning has only a slight effect on the quality of water oak browse. In
one study, protein was slightly higher and phosphoric acid slightly
lower on burned plots than on unburned plots [26].
  • 5. Chen, Ming-Yih; Hodgkins, Earl J.; Watson, W. J. 1975. Prescribed burning for improving pine production and wildlife habitat in the hilly coastal plain of Alabama. Bull. No. 473. Auburn, AL: Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station. 19 p. [9909]
  • 26. Lay, Daniel W. 1957. Browse quality and the effects of prescribed burning in southern pine forests. Journal of Forestry. 55: 342-347. [7633]
  • 42. Silker, T. H. 1961. Prescribed burning to control undesirable hardwoods in southern pine stands. Bulletin No. 51. Kirbyville, TX: Texas Forest Service. 44 p. [16898]
  • 51. Wade, Dale; Edwards, M. Boyd; Weise, David R. 1991. Preharvest seedbed preparation options to enhance loblolly pine regeneration. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research conference: Volume 1; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 171-185. [17476]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: root collar

Water oak, including seedlings, sprout from the root collar if
top-killed by fire. Larger water oaks that survive fire but have fire
scars are extremely susceptible to butt and heart rot [50]. After being
fire scarred, the average rate of spread of rot in water oak is 1.25
feet (0.4 m) per decade [46].
  • 46. Toole, E. Richard; Furnival, George M. 1957. Progress of heart rot following fire in bottomland red oaks. Journal of Forestry. 55: 20-24. [14645]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the term: hardwood

Water oak is easily damaged by fire [50]. Low-severity surface fires
top-kill water oak less than 3 to 4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm) in d.b.h. The
bark of larger trees is thick enough to protect the cambium from
low-severity fires and the buds are above the heat of the fire. In a
study on the Santee Experimental Forest in South Carolina, periodic
winter and summer low-severity fires and annual winter low-severity
fires were effective at reducing the number of hardwood stems (including
water oak) between 1 and 5 inches (2.6-12.5 cm) in d.b.h. Annual summer
fires also reduced the number of stems in that size class, as well as
nearly eliminating all stems less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in d.b.h. Root
systems were weakened and eventually killed by burning during the
growing season [53].

The mean time in seconds for water oak cambium to reach the lethal
temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 deg C) when a standardized
flame was applied to living bark was 30.2 seconds for 0.2 inch-thick
(0.5 cm) bark, 61 seconds for 0.3 inch-thick (0.8 cm) bark, and 136
seconds for 0.4 inch-thick (1 cm) bark [17].
  • 17. Hare, Robert C. 1965. Contribution of bark to fire resistance of southern trees. Journal of Forestry. 63(4): 248-251. [9915]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]
  • 53. Waldrop, Thomas A.; White, David L.; Jones, Steven M. 1992. FIRE REGIMES for pine-grassland communities in the southeastern United States. Forest Ecology and Management. 47: 195-210. [17763]

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Post-fire Regeneration

Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fuel, resistance, root crown

Water oak has relatively thin bark compared to other oaks [55] and is
easily top-killed by even light fire. It survives fire by sprouting
from the root crown [50]. Water oak's moist habitat and proximity to
water discourages fire entry. Water oak leaves and other fuel along
waterways are often moist and difficult to burn [42]. Water oak is
excluded from upslope forests by periodic summer burning [37].

Based on flame applied directly to living bark, water oak is less
resistant to fire than pine, southern magnolia, and sweet bay; of
more-or-less equal resistance as red maple (Acer rubrum), flowering
dogwood, water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), and river birch (Betula nigra);
and more resistant than sweetgum, American holly (Ilex opaca), and black
cherry (Prunus serotina) [17].
  • 17. Hare, Robert C. 1965. Contribution of bark to fire resistance of southern trees. Journal of Forestry. 63(4): 248-251. [9915]
  • 37. Lacey, John; Husby, Peter; Handl, Gene. 1990. Observations on spotted and diffuse knapweed invasion into ungrazed bunchgrass communities in western Montana. Rangelands. 12(1): 30-32. [11390]
  • 42. Silker, T. H. 1961. Prescribed burning to control undesirable hardwoods in southern pine stands. Bulletin No. 51. Kirbyville, TX: Texas Forest Service. 44 p. [16898]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]
  • 55. McReynolds, Robert D.; Hebb, E. A. 1989. Quercus laufirolia Michx. laurel oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 271. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 677-680. [18904]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, hardwood

Facultative Seral Species

Water oak is intolerant to semi-intolerant of shade [19,34,50]. It
germinates in shade but requires moderate light for development.
Because of slow early growth, water oak does not compete well [50].

Water oak is a frequent early hardwood invader [19]. In the absence of
fire, it invades and eventually succeeds pine forests [11]. On
fine-textured loess soils that retain moisture, water oak will colonize
old abandoned fields if a seed source is nearby [40]. As a hardwood
forest matures, water oak will stabilize or decline in abundance [19].

Water oak is generally considered a subclimax or transitional species
[19,32,50]. Because of its weak to moderate tolerance of seasonal
flooding, however, water oak may form a topographic climax on ridges
elevated less than 5 feet (1.5 m) above floodplains [13,32,34].
  • 13. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
  • 11. Engstrom, R. Todd; Crawford, Robert L.; Baker, W. Wilson. 1984. Breeding bird populations in relation to changing forest structure following fire exclusion: a 15-year study. Wilson Bulletin. 96(3): 437-450. [9873]
  • 19. Hartnett, David C.; Krofta, Douglas M. 1989. Fifty-five years of post-fire succession in a southern mixed hardwood forest. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2): 107-113. [9153]
  • 32. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847]
  • 34. Nixon, Elray S.; Willett, R. Larry; Cox, Paul W. 1977. Woody vegetation of a virgin forest in an eastern Texas river bottom. Castanea. 42: 227-236. [9898]
  • 40. Shankman, David. 1990. Forest regeneration on abandoned agricultural fields in western Tennessee. Southeastern Geographer. 30(1): 36-47. [17640]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: hypogeal, monoecious, root crown

Seed production and dissemination: Water oak is monoecious. It bears
seed by age 20, and production is good on alternate years. The heavy
acorns are disseminated by gravity, water, and animals [50] such as blue
jays and ground squirrels, which cache acorns in the soil [8,21,44].

Germination and seedling development: Seed viability is high.
Germination is hypogeal and occurs in the spring following maturation.
Because of a generally late spring emergence, seedling mortality from
flooding is low. The seedlings do not tolerate prolonged submergence.
Because of the large seed, young seedlings have high initial
survivorship regardless of available light, drought stress, or
herbivory. Seedlings require abundant moisture for the entire growing
season [45,50].

Under favorable conditions, water oak may grow 24 inches (60 cm) a
year [50]. Water oak seedlings suppressed by shade, however, grew only
1.9 inches (4.7 cm) per year in a study along the Neches River in east
Texas [45]. A suppressed individual will grow epicormic branches [50]

Vegetative reproduction: If top-killed, water oak of all ages will
sprout fairly efficiently from the root crown [38,45,50].
  • 8. Deen, Robert T.; Hodges, John D. 1991. Oak regeneration in abandoned fields: presumed role of the blue jay. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research conference: Vol. 1; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 84-93. [17465]
  • 21. Johnson, W. Carter; Webb, Thompson, III. 1989. The role of blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata L.) in the postglacial dispersal of fagaceous trees in eastern North America. Journal of Biogeography. 16: 561-571. [11875]
  • 38. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 44. Smallwood, Peter D.; Peters, W. David. 1986. Grey squirrel food preferences: the effects of tannin and fat concentration. Ecology. 67(1): 168-175. [10519]
  • 45. Streng, Donna R.; Glitzenstein, Jeff S.; Harcombe, P. A. 1989. Woody seedling dynamics in an east Texas floodplain forest. Ecological Monographs. 59(2): 177-204. [6894]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Reaction to Competition

Water oak does not compete well  with other species because of its slow early growth and its  intolerance to shade and competition. It is a subclimax tree.  Water oak germinates under shade, but seedlings require moderate  light for development. Epicormic branching is common for water  oak in suppressed to intermediate crown position. Stumps will  sprout, but vegetative propagation is not economically practical   as a management procedure (7).

    Water oak is easily injured by fire and even a light burn kills  stems of seedlings. Survivors are extremely susceptible to butt  rot.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Rooting Habit

No information available.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Water oak staminate and pistillate flowers develop shortly before or at
the same time as new leaves. Acorns mature in September of the second
year and are dispersed from September through November [3,50].
  • 3. Allen, James A.; Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1989. Bottomland hardwood reforestation in the lower Mississippi Valley. Slidell, LA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Research Center; Stoneville, MS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experimental Station. 28 p. [15293]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring.
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Reproduction

Seedling Development

Under controlled conditions, water  oak acorns require a pregermination treatment to overcome  dormancy. Under natural conditions, they germinate the spring  following maturation. They may be induced to germinate by  stratification for 30 to 40 days in moist sand at 30° to 32°  C (86° to 90° F) during light cycles and for a 52- to  73-day period at 20° to 21° C (68° to 70° F)  during dark cycles. Expect 60 to 94 percent germination after 31  to 73 days. Germination is hypogeal (4).

    Seedlings require abundant moisture the entire growing season but  do not tolerate prolonged submersion. Under optimum conditions  water oak grows at a rate of 60 cm (24 in) per year for the first  25 years (7).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

Trees bear seed at  about age 20 and production seems to alternate between prolific  and lean years. Mature trees yield 9 to 53 liters (0.25 to 1.5  bu) of acorns in a good year, with about 64.4 kg/ha (50 lb/bu).  The average for cleaned seeds is 880/kg (400/lb) (4). Generally,  viable acorns sink in water, while those that float probably will  not germinate. Water oak acorns are naturally disseminated by  animals and water.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

Water oak is monoecious; staminate  flowers are in hanging catkins and pistillate flowers are in  few-flowered, short-stalked clusters on the same tree. They  develop shortly before or at the same time as the new leaves.  Staminate flowers are produced near the tip of the previous  year's growth, while pistillate flowers are produced in the  junction of the current year's growth (5). The fruit, an acorn,  matures about September of the second year. The embryo has no  endosperm but two large, fleshy cotyledons (4).

    Flowers are easily killed by late frosts after leaf buds open. The  trees then defoliate and develop new leaves but do not generate a  second crop of flowers.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Water oak can grow to 38 m (125 ft) on a  site index range of 18.3 to 33.5 m (60 to 110 ft) at base age 50  years (1). It prunes itself slowly, developing a straight,  slender main trunk. Growing quickly on favorable sites, it can  produce 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in) of d.b.h. growth in 10 years. It  can grow 7.8 cm (3.1 in) in d.b.h. in 10 years while in the 36 to  46 cm (14 to 18 in) diameter class; and 7.4 cm (2.9 in) in the 51  to 71 cm (20 to 28 in) class (7). Water oak has a shallow,  spreading rooting habit.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

There are no reported racial variations of water oak. It  hybridizes with other oak species as follows (3): Quercus  falcata (Q. x garlandensis Palmer), Q. incana (Q. x  caduca Trel.), Q. laevis (Q. x walteriana Ashe), Q.  marilandica (Q. x sterilis Trel.), Q. phellos Q x capesii  W Wolf), Q. shumardii (Q. x neopalmeri Sudw.), and  Q. velutina (Q. x demarei Ashe).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Management

Management considerations

Water oak is very susceptible to disease and insect attack when growing
on impervious or dry terrace soils [38]. Trunk borers (Enaphalodes spp.
and Prionoxystus spp.) and leaf hoppers (Erythroneura spp.) attack water
oak along with root rot (Ganoderma curtisiicone) and cone rusts
(Cronartium spp.). Although not seriously harmed itself, water oak is
an extremely susceptible host to the alternate stage of fusiform rust
(Cronartium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme), a serious disease of southern
pines [55]. Trunk canker and heart rot are caused by a variety of
organisms. Water oak is also parasitized by mistletoe (Phoradendron
flavescens) [50].

Water oak is highly susceptible to air pollution, especially sulfur
dioxide. Flowers are easily killed by late frosts [50].

Water oak has great potential for fiber production on sites to which it
is specifically adapted. Pine does poorly on many of these sites and
could be replaced with water oak [23]. Clearcutting followed by
planting or direct seeding is the best method to establish hardwood
forests [30]. Competing vegetation and destruction of acorns by
squirrels and chipmunks are the biggest problems associated with direct
seeding. Moisture is a major limiting factor for water oak regeneration
[54]. Collection, storage, stratification, and viability testing of
water oak acorns are detailed [4].

Nutria uproot and eat seedlings. Translucent plastic tubes placed
around newly planted seedlings were effective in protecting seedlings
from nutria in Louisiana [2].

Herbicides such as 2,4,5-T, picloram, and glyphosate can be used to
control water oak in pine plantations [31,50].
  • 4. Bonner, F. T.; Vozzo, J. A. 1987. Seed biology and technology of Quercus. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-66. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 21 p. [3248]
  • 2. Allen, James; Boykin, Roger. 1991. Tree shelters help protect seedlings from nutria (Louisiana). Restoration & Management Notes. 9(2): 122-123. [17730]
  • 23. Kellison, R. C.; Jett, J. B., Jr. 1978. Species selection for plantation establishment in the Atlantic coastal plain and sandhills provinces. In: Balmer, William E., ed. Proceedings--soil moisture...site productivity symposium; 1977 November 1-3; Myrtle Beach, SC. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Area, State and Private Forestry: 196-202. [4264]
  • 30. McGarity, R. W.; McKnight, J. S.; Blackmon, B. G. 1981. Southern bottomland hardwoods. In: Choices in silviculture for American forests. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 30-36. [6526]
  • 31. McLemore, B. F. 1984. A comparison of herbicides for tree injection. In: Proceedings, 37th annual meeting of the southern Weed Science Society: 161-167. [17294]
  • 38. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]
  • 54. Wittwer, R. F. 1991. Direct seeding of bottomland oaks in Oklahoma. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 15(1): 17-22. [13978]
  • 55. McReynolds, Robert D.; Hebb, E. A. 1989. Quercus laufirolia Michx. laurel oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 271. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 677-680. [18904]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Other uses and values

More info for the term: tree

Water oak is used as a shade tree [50].
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the term: hardwood

Water oak is frequently used to restore bottomland hardwood forests in
the Southeast on land that was previously cleared for agriculture or
pine plantations. Both direct seeding and planting methods work well
[1,27,30,54].

Water oak performed well when planted on fill slopes in Decatur County,
Tennessee. After 45 years, water oak averaged 96 feet (29.3 m) in
height, 15 inches (38 cm) in d.b.h., and had an average stocking of 96
trees per acre (237 trees/ha) [27]. Water oak planted on
canal-excavated material along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway had
intermediate survival (greater than 40 percent) and a mean growth of
44.7 inches (113.60 cm) in 5 years [18].
  • 1. Allen, James A. 1990. Establishment of bottomland oak plantations on the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 14(4): 206-210. [14615]
  • 18. Hartley, Jeanne J.; Arner, Dale H.; Hartley, Danny R. 1990. Survival of planted woody species on disposal areas of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration '89: the new management challenge: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 244-250. [12090]
  • 27. Lea, Russ; Frederick, D. J. 1990. Bottomland hardwood restoration in the southeastern United States. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration `89: the new management challange: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 292-300. [14706]
  • 30. McGarity, R. W.; McKnight, J. S.; Blackmon, B. G. 1981. Southern bottomland hardwoods. In: Choices in silviculture for American forests. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 30-36. [6526]
  • 54. Wittwer, R. F. 1991. Direct seeding of bottomland oaks in Oklahoma. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 15(1): 17-22. [13978]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: cover

Water oak provides cover, food, and habitat for wildlife. Cavity
nesters such as the red-bellied woodpecker, great crested flycatcher,
and hairy woodpecker nest in water oak snags [9]. A tall midstory of
water oak within a pine forest provides habitat for the southern flying
squirrel [25].

Water oak acorns are eaten by many animals including squirrels,
chipmunks, waterfowl, blue jay, wild turkey, and northern bobwhite
[8,48]. Blue jays and squirrels cache acorns in the fall and return to
eat them in the winter [8,21,44]. Acorns of the black oak group are an
especially important food source in the winter because those of the
white oak group germinate soon after falling and, therefore, are
unavailable [41,44]. Deer browse water oak [16].
  • 8. Deen, Robert T.; Hodges, John D. 1991. Oak regeneration in abandoned fields: presumed role of the blue jay. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research conference: Vol. 1; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 84-93. [17465]
  • 9. Dickson, James G.; Conner, Richard N.; Williamson, J. Howard. 1983. Snag retention increases bird use of a clear-cut. Journal of Wildlife Management. 47(3): 799-804. [13855]
  • 16. Goodrum, Phil D.; Reid, Vincent H. 1958. Deer browsing in the longleaf pine belt. In: Proceedings, 58th annual meeting of the Society of American Foresters; [Date of meeting unknown]
  • 21. Johnson, W. Carter; Webb, Thompson, III. 1989. The role of blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata L.) in the postglacial dispersal of fagaceous trees in eastern North America. Journal of Biogeography. 16: 561-571. [11875]
  • 25. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]
  • 41. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]
  • 44. Smallwood, Peter D.; Peters, W. David. 1986. Grey squirrel food preferences: the effects of tannin and fat concentration. Ecology. 67(1): 168-175. [10519]
  • 48. Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals. Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428. [11983]

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Wood Products Value

On good sites water oak produces moderate quality factory lumber [10],
but on poor sites the wood is knotty, mineral stained, and often insect
damaged [38]. Water oak veneer is used as plywood for fruit and
vegetable containers [50].
  • 10. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 38. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Nutritional Value

Water oak acorns have 4.9 percent crude protein, 17.6 percent crude
fiber, and 21.1 percent crude fat which makes them high in energy. They
are low in nitrogen and phosphorus [41].
  • 41. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]

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Palatability

Water oak acorns have a fairly high tannin content of 8.8 percent, which
limits palatability [41]. In feeding trials to test acorn preference of
fox squirrels, water oak ranked sixth in preference among the 12
southeastern acorn species tested [35].
  • 35. Ofcarcik, R. P.; Burns, E. E.; Teer, J. G. 1973. Acceptance of selected acorns by captive fox squirrels. Southwestern Naturalist. 17(4): 349-355. [11365]
  • 41. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]

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Special Uses

Water oak is particularly suited for timber, fuel, wildlife  habitat, and environmental forestry (4). It has been widely  planted in southern communities as a shade tree. Its veneer has  been successfully used as plywood for fruit and vegetable  containers (8).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Wikipedia

Quercus nigra

Quercus nigra, the water oak, is an oak in the red oak group (Quercus sect. Lobatae), native to the southeastern United States, from southern Delaware and south to the coastal areas of Maryland, Virginia, the piedmont of North Carolina, all of South Carolina, most of Georgia (with the exception of the Appalachian Mountains), all of Alabama, Mississippi, central Florida, and westward to Louisiana and eastern Texas. From there, northward to southeastern Missouri including Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, parts of Tennessee, and extreme southwestern Kentucky. It occurs in lowlands and up to 450 m (1500 ft) altitude.

Description[edit]

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree, growing to 30 m (100 ft) tall with a trunk up to 1 m (3 ft) in diameter. Young trees have a smooth, brown bark that becomes gray-black with rough scaly ridges as the tree matures. The leaves are alternate, simple and tardily deciduous, only falling well into winter; they are 3–12 cm (1–5 in) long and 2–6 cm (1/2–2 in) broad, variable in shape, most commonly shaped like a spatula being broad and rounded at the top and narrow and wedged at the base. The margins vary usually being smooth to shallowly lobed, with a bristle at the apex and lobe tips. The tree is easy to identify by the leaves, which have a lobe that looks as if a drop of water is hanging from the end of the leaf. The top of each leaf is a dull green to bluish green and the bottom is a paler bluish-green. On the bottom portion of the leaves, rusty colored hairs run along the veins. The acorns are arranged singly or in pairs, 10–14 mm (1/3-1/2 in) long and broad, with a shallow cupule; they mature about 18 months after pollination in fall of second year.

Ecology[edit]

Water oak leaf cluster

Water oak serves the same ecological role as weeping willow and other wetland trees. It is adapted to wet, swampy areas, such as along ponds and stream banks, but can also tolerate well-drained sites and even heavy, compacted soils. It grows in sandy soils, red clays, and old fields to the borders of swamps, streams, to bottomlands. Due to its ability to grow and reproduce quickly, the water oak is often the most abundant species in a stand of trees. The tree is relatively short-lived compared to other oaks and may live only 60 to 80 years. It does not compete well and does not tolerate even light shade. Water oak is frequently used to restore bottomland hardwood forests on land that was previously cleared for agriculture or pine plantations. Minimum age for flowering and fruiting is 20 years and the tree produces heavy crops of acorns nearly every year. Water oak is not recommended as an ornamental due to being short-lived, disease-prone, and extremely messy.

Hybrids of water oak are known with southern red oak (Quercus falcata), bluejack oak (Quercus incana), turkey oak (Quercus laevis), blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), willow oak (Quercus phellos), Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii), and black oak (Quercus velutina)

Water oak acorns are an important food for white-tailed deer, eastern gray squirrel, raccoon, wild turkey, mallard, wood duck, and bobwhite quail. In winter, deer will browse the buds and young twigs.

Uses and history[edit]

Water oak has been used for timber and for fuel by people in the southern states since the 17th century. The wood is generally sold as "red oak", mixed with the wood from other red oaks.

Other names include spotted oak, duck oak, punk oak, orange oak or possum oak.

References[edit]

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Notes

Comments

Typically on mesic alluvial and lowland sites, Quercus nigra also occurs on a wide variety of soil types and in a diversity of habitats. 

 Trees with 3-lobed leaves with attenuate bases have been recognized as Quercus nigra var. tridentifera Sargent.

Quercus nigra reportedly hybridizes with Q . falcata (= Q . × garlandensis E. J. Palmer), Q . incana , Q . laevis (= Q . × walteriana Ashe), Q . marilandica (= Q . × sterilis Trelease), Q . phellos (= Q . × capesii W. Wolf), Q . shumardii (= Q . × neopalmeri Sudworth), and Q . velutina ( Q . × demarei Ashe). In addition, D. M. Hunt (1989) cited evidence of hybridization also with Q . arkansana , Q . georgiana , Q . hemisphaerica , Q . laurifolia , Q . myrtifolia , Q . palustris , Q . rubra , and Q . texana.

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Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of water oak is Quercus nigra L.
[25,50]. It has been placed within the subgenus Erythrobalanus or black
oak group. There are no recognized varieties, subspecies, or forms.

Water oak hybridizes with the following species [25,50]:

x Q. falcata (southern red oak) = Q. X garlandensis Palmer
x Q. incana (bluejack oak) = Q. X caduca Trel.
x Q. laevis (turkey oak) = Q. X walteriana Ashe
x Q. marilandica (blackjack oak) = Q. X sterilis Trel.
x Q. phellos (willow oak) = Q. X capesii W. Wolf
x Q. shumardii (Shumard oak) = Q. X neopalmeri Sudw.
x Q. velutina (black oak) = Q. X demarei Ashe
  • 25. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]
  • 50. Vozzo, J. A. 1990. Quercus nigra L. water oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Agric. Handb. 654. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 701-703. [18957]

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Common Names

water oak
possum oak
spotted oak
striped oak
pin oak
duck oak
punk oak
orange oak

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Synonyms

Quercus aquatica Walt.
Quercus microcarpa Small
Quercus nigra var. heterophylla (Ait.) Ashe

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