Overview

Brief Summary

Fagaceae -- Beech family

    Robert Rogers

    White oak (Quercus alba) is an outstanding tree among all  trees and is widespread across eastern North America. The most  important lumber tree of the white oak group, growth is good on  all but the driest shallow soils. Its high-grade wood is useful  for many things, an important one being staves for barrels, hence  the name stave oak. The acorns are an important food for many  kinds of wildlife.

  • 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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Robert Rogers

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Comprehensive Description

Description

Quecus alba L., white oak, grows from Maine to Minnesota southward to Florida and Texas. It is a large, stately tree that grows up to over 100 feet tall, and 38 to 50 inches in diameter, with a round to wide spreading irregular crown. White oak bark is whitish or light gray, varying from scaly to irregularly platy or ridged and furrowed. Leaves are simple and alternately arranged on the stems; they are 5-6 inches long and have a rounded tip and wedge-shaped base, with evenly notched edges; leaves are bright green above and whitish underneath. Male flowers are green and 2-4 inches long, while female flowers are reddish and they appear as single spikes with the leaves. White oak acorns are oval; about a quarter of the acorn body is covered with a cap which drops off at maturity. There are approximately 120 seeds per pound.

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Comments

White Oak is a very impressive tree at maturity with branches of exceptional length and size. It can be distinguished from other oaks (Quercus spp.) by its light gray bark with flat scaly ridges and shallow furrows, by its moderately to deeply lobed leaves, by the relatively even size of its lobes and their rounded tips, by the pale green and hairless undersides of its leaves, and by its medium-large acorns that have shallow warty cups without fringes. The highly regarded wood of White Oak is heavy, strong, flexible, and durable. It is used to make furniture, veneer, paneling, flooring, wooden barrels (including those that store whiskey and wine), caskets, railroad ties, fence posts, mine timbers, and wooden boats. It is also an excellent source of firewood.
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Description

This tree is 60-100' tall. In open situations, it develops a short stout trunk and a globoid to subgloboid crown with widely spreading lower branches and ascending upper branches. In forested situations, it develops a long straight trunk and an ovoid crown with ascending branches. Trunk bark is light gray, shallowly furrowed, and divided into flat narrow plates. Branch bark is light gray and more
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Alternative names

stave oak

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Distribution

Widespread in eastern North America.

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native White Oak is a common tree that is found in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). It is the state tree of Illinois. Habitats include upland woodlands, well-drained areas of bottomland woodlands, sandy woodlands, bluffs, wooded slopes, savannas and sandy savannas, edges of limestone glades, and high riverbanks above the flood zone. White Oak is found in wooded areas of varying quality; sometimes it is a dominant or codominant canopy tree. White Oak is slowly being replaced by more shade tolerant trees, particularly Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), because of the suppression of fire, to which it is moderately resistant. White Oak is also cultivated as a landscape tree and it is often found in city parks.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  IA  KS
     KY  LA  ME  MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  NE  NH
     NJ  NY  NC  OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN  TX
     VT  VA  WV  WI  ON  PQ

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White oak grows throughout much of the eastern United States from
southwest Maine to northern Florida, Alabama, and Georgia [53,83,148].
It extends westward throughout southern Ontario and Quebec into central
Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and southeastern Minnesota and south to
southwestern Iowa, eastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas
[55,83]. Little [83] reported that white oak may have been eliminated
from southeastern Nebraska.

The best growing conditions for white oak occur on the western slope of
the Appalachian Mountains and in the Ohio Valley and central Mississippi
Valley [148].  White oak is mostly absent from conifer-dominated stands
at higher elevations within the Appalachian Mountains and from the lower
Mississippi Delta and coastal areas of Texas and Louisiana [148].

The variety latiloba occurs at the northern edge of the species' range
[47].  The range of var. repanda is poorly documented, but it has been
reported in parts of New England [117].
  • 117. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573]
  • 47. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 53. Harrison, Janet S.; Werner, Patricia A. 1984. Colonization by oak seedlings into a heterogeneous successional habitat. Canadian Journal of Botany. 62: 559-563. [11979]
  • 55. Hepting, George H.; Hedgcock, George G. 1935. Relation between butt rot and fire in some eastern hardwoods. Tech. Note 14. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [10186]
  • 83. Monk, Carl D.; Imm, Donald W.; Potter, Robert L.; Parker, Geoffrey G. 1989. A classification of the deciduous forest of eastern North America. Vegetatio. 80: 167-181. [9297]

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White oak grows throughout most of the Eastern United  States. It is found from southwestern Maine and extreme southern  Quebec, west to southern Ontario, central Michigan, to  southeastern Minnesota; south to western Iowa, eastern Kansas,  Oklahoma, and Texas; east to northern Florida and Georgia. The  tree is generally absent in the high Appalachians, in the Delta  region of the lower Mississippi, and in the coastal areas of  Texas and Louisiana.

    The west slopes of the Appalachian Mountains and the Ohio and  central Mississippi River Valleys have optimum conditions for  white oak, but the largest trees have been found in Delaware and  Maryland on the Eastern Shore.

   
  -The native range of white 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.
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Robert Rogers

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Ont., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
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Distribution and adaptation

Although found on many soil types, white oak does best on coarse, deep, moist, well-drained, with medium fertility, and slightly acid soils. It is well adapted to heavy soils and north and east-facing slopes. Natural stands are often found in areas with loam and clay soil. White oak is moderately resistant to ice breakage, sensitive to flooding, and resistant to salt spray and brief salt-water submergence. It is sensitive to fire injury, coal smoke, and fly ash deposit on soil surface.

For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Tree, 22 - 28 m tall, trunk 0.6 - 1.2 m in diameter. Form open with wide-speading, gnarled branches. Bark light gray with shallow fissures or long, scaly blocks. Frequently, infection by a harmless fungus, Aleurodiscus oakesii, causes the non-living outer bark to fall off, leaving smooth, gray patches. Twigs changing from bright green and hairy to reddish or light gray and smooth with age. Buds dark reddish brown, 3 - 4 mm long, egg-shaped to almost spherical with a rounded tip. Each terminal bud is surrounded by a cluster of lateral buds. Leaves alternate, short-stalked, bright green above, pale green or with a waxy whitish coating beneath (glaucous), 12 - 20 cm long, 6 - 10 cm wide, with five to nine rounded lobes separated by depressions that are deep in sun leaves and shallow in shade leaves. Foliage turns brownish purple in fall. Flowers either male or female, found on the same plant (monoecious). Male flowers are borne in hanging catkins, yellow, and 5 - 8 cm long, while the reddish female flowers are borne near leaf axils. Fruit an acorn, developing in one season, solitary or in pairs, with a 0 - 2.5 cm long stalk. The deep saucer- or bowl-shaped cup covers one-quarter of the nut and has thick and warty scales with fine gray hairs. Nut light brown, 1.3 - 2 cm long and oblong to egg-shaped.

[from vPlants.org, accessed 7 January 2009]

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Description

More info for the terms: monoecious, tree

White oak is a medium to large, spreading, deciduous tree which commonly
reaches 60 to 80 feet (18-24 m) in height [31,53,131].  On favorable
sites, individuals may grow to more than 100 feet (30 m) in height and
exceed 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter [19,108].  White oak is slow-growing
and long-lived (up to 600 years) [35].

White oak is monoecious [131].  Yellowish staminate catkins are borne at
the base of new growth, whereas reddish pistillate catkins grow in the
axils of new growth [119,131,148].  The short-stalked, glabrous, ovoid
acorns are tan to brown [31,53,108].  Acorns are generally borne in
pairs [31].  The rough, warty cup covers approximately 33 to 50 percent
of the nut [31,55,131].
  • 108. Short, Henry L.; Epps, E. A., Jr. 1976. Nutrient quality and digestibility of seeds and fruits from southern forests. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(2): 283-289. [10510]
  • 119. Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals. Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428. [11983]
  • 19. Brewer, Richard; Kitler, Steven. 1989. Tree distribution in southwestern Michigan bur oak openings. Michigan Botanist. 28(2): 73-79. [13005]
  • 31. Coffman, Michael S.; Alyanak, Edward; Resovsky, Richard. 1980. Field guide habitat classification system: For Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northeast Wisconsin. Houghton, MI: School of Forestry and Wood Production, Michigan Technical University. 112 p. [8997]
  • 35. DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management. 19(1): 65-70. [7343]
  • 53. Harrison, Janet S.; Werner, Patricia A. 1984. Colonization by oak seedlings into a heterogeneous successional habitat. Canadian Journal of Botany. 62: 559-563. [11979]
  • 55. Hepting, George H.; Hedgcock, George G. 1935. Relation between butt rot and fire in some eastern hardwoods. Tech. Note 14. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [10186]

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Description

Trees , deciduous, to 25 m. Bark light gray, scaly. Twigs green or reddish, becoming gray, 2-3(-4) mm diam., initially pubescent, soon glabrous. Buds dark reddish brown, ovoid, ca. 3 mm, apex obtuse, glabrous. Leaves: petiole (4-)10-25(-30) mm. Leaf blade obovate to narrowly elliptic or narrowly obovate, (79-)120-180(-230) × (40-)70-110(-165) mm, base narrowly cuneate to acute, margins moderately to deeply lobed, lobes often narrow, rounded distally, sinuses extending 1/3-7/8 distance to midrib, secondary veins arched, divergent, (3-)5-7 on each side, apex broadly rounded or ovate; surfaces abaxially light green, with numerous whitish or reddish erect hairs, these quickly shed as leaf expands, adaxially light gray-green, dull or glossy. Acorns 1-3, subsessile or on peduncle to 25(-50) mm; cup hemispheric, enclosing 1/4 nut, scales closely appressed, finely grayish tomentose; nut light brown, ovoid-ellipsoid or oblong, (12-)15-21(-25) × 9-18 mm, glabrous. Cotyledons distinct. 2 n = 24.
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Look Alikes

Many oaks in the white oak group and Quercus robur have highly variable, similar leaves with rounded lobes. Quercus bicolor has round-toothed to shallowly lobed leaves that are whitish and hairy beneath, peeling bark on young branches, and a long-stalked acorn cup. Quercus lyrata has leaves that are inversely egg-shaped with irregular, rounded lobes, and an acorn cup that nearly covers the nut. Quercus macrocarpa has deeply lobed leaves that are inversely egg-shaped and hairy beneath, often corky-ridged twigs, and an acorn cup with long fringes along the margin. Quercus robur has very short-stalked leaves with ear-like lobes at the base, and a long-stalked acorn cup.

[from vPlants.org, accessed 7 January 2009]

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Ecology

Habitat

Moist to fairly dry, deciduous forests usually on deeper, well-drained loams, also on thin soils on dry upland slopes, sometimes on barrens; 0-1600m.
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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native White Oak is a common tree that is found in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). It is the state tree of Illinois. Habitats include upland woodlands, well-drained areas of bottomland woodlands, sandy woodlands, bluffs, wooded slopes, savannas and sandy savannas, edges of limestone glades, and high riverbanks above the flood zone. White Oak is found in wooded areas of varying quality; sometimes it is a dominant or codominant canopy tree. White Oak is slowly being replaced by more shade tolerant trees, particularly Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), because of the suppression of fire, to which it is moderately resistant. White Oak is also cultivated as a landscape tree and it is often found in city parks.
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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: association, mesic, tree

White oak grows in rich uplands, moist bottomlands, along streams, on
hammocks, sinks, sandy plains, and on dry, gravelly slopes
[17,28,30,99,116].  It occurs on all upland aspects, and slope positions
[99], but in the southern Appalachians, it exhibits best growth on
northern lower slopes and in coves [32].  White oak is absent on
ridgetops with shallow soil, on poorly drained flats, and on very wet
bottomlands [99].  Latitude, aspect, and topography are important
factors influencing the distribution of white oak within its range [99].
White oak grows in a variety of dry to mesic woodland communities [131]
including pine-oak-hickory woods, beech-maple, and mixed hardwood
forests [30,131].  It also occurs in relatively open post oak savanna
[110] and oak savanna codominated by bur oak [8].

Plant associates:  White oak grows in pure or mixed stands in the
Southeast [38] but towards the northern portion of its range it rarely
occurs in pure stands [57].  Important tree associates are numerous and
include beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple, black cherry (Prunus
serotina), white ash (Fraxinus americana), yellow poplar, shortleaf pine
(Pinus echinata), loblolly pine (P. taeda), eastern white pine (P.
strobus), jack pine (P. banksiana), eastern hemlock, sweet gum, black
gum (Nyssa sylvatica), American basswood (Tilia americana), shagbark
hickory (Carya ovata), and other hickories (Carya spp.)  [28,57,83,110].
Scarlet oak, post oak, bur oak, black oak, and northern red oak are also
important associates [99], Upland oaks and hickories are the most common
associates [99].  Many herbaceous species grow in association with white
oak.

Climate:  White oak is often associated with a cool, temperate,
continental climate [12] but can grow under a variety of climatic
regimes [99].  Mean average temperatures range from 45 degrees F (7 deg
C) in the North to 70 degrees F (21 deg C) in eastern Texas and northern
Florida [32].  Annual precipitation averages 80 inches (203 cm) in the
southern Appalachians but is less than 30 inches (77 cm) in southern
Minnesota [99].  Growing season length ranges from 5 months in the North
to 9 months in the South [99].

Soils:  White oak grows on a wide variety of soils [28] derived from
many types of parent materials [42].  It grows on silty loam, clay loam,
silty clay loam, fine sand, and loamy clay [12,43,110] but grows best on
deep, well-drained loamy soils.  Low soil-nutrient levels limit growth
of white oak only on sandy soils [99].  White oak is common on rocky
soils [116].

Elevation:  White oak grows from sea level to 5,900 feet (0-1,800 m)
[38].  In the North, it generally grows under 500 feet (152 m) in
elevation, but in the southern Appalachians, it grows as a "scrub tree"
at 4,500 feet (1,372 m) [99].  It is absent from higher elevations in
the northern Appalachians.  In the Smoky Mountains, two populations are
separated by an elevational gap of 1,000 feet (305 m) [130].  White oak
grows below 2,000 feet (610 m) in the Cumberland Mountains [130].
  • 110. Smallwood, Peter D.; Peters, W. David. 1986. Grey squirrel food preferences: the effects of tannin and fat concentration. Ecology. 67(1): 168-175. [10519]
  • 116. Toole, E. Richard. 1965. Fire damage to commercial hardwoods in southern bottom lands. In: Proceedings, 4th annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1965 March 18-19; Tallahassee, FL. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 144-151. [8715]
  • 12. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Cho, Do-Soon. 1987. Structure and composition of Goll Woods, an old-growth forest remnant in northwestern Ohio. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 114(2): 173-179. [8711]
  • 130. Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p. [12908]
  • 17. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]
  • 28. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 30. Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124]
  • 32. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 38. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 42. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 43. Garren, Kenneth H. 1943. Effects of fire on vegetation of the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 9: 617-654. [9517]
  • 57. Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  • 8. Auclair, Allan N.; Cottam, Grant. 1971. Dynamics of black cherry (Prunus serotina Erhr.) in southern Wisconsin oak forests. Ecological Monographs. 41(2): 153-177. [8102]
  • 83. Monk, Carl D.; Imm, Donald W.; Potter, Robert L.; Parker, Geoffrey G. 1989. A classification of the deciduous forest of eastern North America. Vegetatio. 80: 167-181. [9297]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the term: cover

White oak grows as a dominant in many communities and as a major species
in several cover types [95,96].  Common codominants within the overstory
include northern red oak (Quercus rubra), scarlet oak (Q. coccinea),
northern pin oak (Q. ellipsoidalis), black oak (Q. velutinus), beech
(Fagus spp.), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), chestnut (Castanea
dentata), red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), and
hickories (Carya spp.).  Understory dominants or codominants include
deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), leadplant (Amorpha canescens), trailing
arbutus (Epigaea repens), huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.), meadow-rue
(Thalictrum spp.), and false Solomon's-seal (Smilacina racemosa). 

Published classifications listing white oak as an indicator or dominant
in habitat types (hts) are presented below:

Area              Classification                Authority

   AL             general veg. cts              Golden 1979
 s IL             general veg. cts              Fralish 1976
   IN             general veg. cts              Keith 1983
ne IA             general veg. cts              Cahayla-Wynne &
                                                Glenn-Lewin 1978
   MI             general veg. cts              Hammitt and Barnes 1989
                  general veg. eas              Pregitzer and Ramm 1984
 n MI, ne WI      forest hts                    Coffman and others 1980
sw OH             general veg. cts              Braun 1936
 e TN             general veg. cts              Martin and DeSelm 1976
n WI              forest hts                    Kotar and others 1988
Smoky Mtns        general veg. cts              Whittaker 1956
  • 95. Reid, Vincent H.; Goodrum, Phil D. 1957. The effect of hardwood removal on wildlife. In: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 141-147. [10477]
  • 96. Reich, Peter B.; Abrams, Marc D.; Ellsworth, David S.; [and others]. 1990. Fire affects ecophysiology and community dynamics of central Wisconsin oak forest regeneration. Ecology. 71(6): 2179-2190. [13326]

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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 term: swamp

    14  Northern pin oak
    15  Red pine
    19  Gray birch - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    22  White pine - hemlock
    23  Eastern hemlock
    26  Sugar maple - basswood
    27  Sugar maple
    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
    57  Yellow poplar
    58  Yellow poplar - eastern hemlock
    59  Yellow poplar - white oak - northern red oak
    60  Beech - sugar maple
    61  River birch - sycamore
    64  Sassafras - persimmon
    65  Pin oak - sweetgum
    75  Shortleaf pine
    76  Shortleaf pine - oak
    78  Virginia pine - oak
    80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
    81  Loblolly pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    91  Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
   110  Black oak

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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):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

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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):

   K081  Oak savanna
   K089  Blackbelt
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest

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Soils and Topography

White oak grows on a wide range of soils and sites. It is found on  podzols, gray-brown podzolic soils, brown podzolic soils, red and  yellow podzolic soils, lithosols, planasols, and alluviums. The  tree grows on both glaciated and nonglaciated soils derived from  many parent materials. It is found on sandy plains, gravelly  ridges, rich uplands, coves, and well-drained loamy soils. Growth  is good on all but the driest, shallowest soils (28).

    Mineral nutrition is not limiting to white oak growth except on  very sandy soils where moisture is also a limiting factor. The  amount of variability in white oak growth that can be accounted  for by soil factors alone is low (9,28,37). Nevertheless, several  studies have identified the more important factors to be  thickness of the A, and A2 horizons and the percent clay in the  surface soils (18,25,28). White oak is most frequently found  growing on soils in the orders Alfisols and Ultisols.

    The major site factors influencing white oak growth are latitude,  aspect, and topography (9,18). White oak has the ability to grow  on all upland aspects and slope positions within its range except  extremely dry, shallow-soil ridges; poorly drained flats; and wet  bottom land. It grows best on north and east-facing lower slopes  and coves and grows well on moderately dry slopes and ridges with  shallow soils. White oak is more abundant although smaller in  size on the drier west- and south-facing slopes than on the more  mesophytic sites.

    It is found at all altitudes in the central and southern parts of  its range, but it is seldom found above 150 in (500 ft) in  elevation in the northern part of its range. It is excluded from  the high Appalachians in New York and New England; but it is a  scrub tree at elevations of 1370 in (4,500 ft) in the southern  Appalachians (28).

  • 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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Robert Rogers

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

White oak grows under a wide variety of climatic conditions. Mean  annual temperature ranges from 7° C (45° F) along the  northern edge of the growing area to nearly 21° C (70°  F) in east Texas and north Florida. The extreme low temperature  ranges from -460 C (-50° F) in Wisconsin and Minnesota to  -18° C (0° F) in north Florida. Annual precipitation  ranges from 2030 mm (80 in) in the southern Appalachians to 760  mm (30 in) in southern Minnesota. Snowfall averages 178 cm (70  in) in southern Maine and less than 3 cm (1 in) in northern  Florida. The average noon July relative humidity is less than 50  percent in the western part of the range and more than 65 percent  on the Atlantic Coast. The frost-free season is 5 months in the  north and 9 months in the extreme southern part of the range. The  mean maximum frost penetration in the soil is 102 cm (40 in) in  the north and 3 cm (1 in) in the south.

    The optimum range of white oak in the Ohio Valley and central part  of the Mississippi Valley has the following average climatic  conditions: annual temperature, 13° C (55° F); annual  precipitation, 1020 mm (40 in); annual snowfall, from 38 to 51  cm. (15 to 20 in); noon relative humidity in July, 55 percent;  frost-free season, 6 months; and frost penetration, 25 cm (10 in)  (28).

  • 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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Robert Rogers

Source: Silvics of North America

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Very common in oak-hickory forests and upland dry-mesic areas.

[from vPlants.org, accessed 7 January 2009]

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© Weber, Jaime

Source: Oaks of the Americas

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Dispersal

Establishment

Fall seeding is preferable to spring seeding. White oak acorns have no dormancy and germinate immediately following seeding. Acorns are drilled in rows 8 to 10 inches apart, or broadcast and covered with ¼ inch of firmed soil. In the nursery, seedbed densities of 10 to 35 per square foot are recommended. Fall sown beds should be mulched to protect the seeds and seedlings. Partial shade is beneficial for germination. Seedlings are transplanted after the first year.

Because of its deep root system, white oak is fairly tolerant of a range of soil conditions and fairly drought tolerant when well established; however, because it is taprooted, it is difficult to transplant. Production in the nursery is difficult as well and growth is slow.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Caterpillars of the butterflies Calycopis cecrops (Red-Banded Hairstreak), Fixsenia favonius ontario (Northern Hairstreak), Parrhasius m-album (White-M Hairstreak), Satyrium calanus falacer (Banded Hairstreak), and Satyrium liparops strigosum (Striped Hairstreak) feed on the foliage, as do caterpillars of the skippers Erynnis brizo (Sleepy Duskywing) and Erynnis juvenalis (Juvenal's Duskywing). Probably several hundred species of moth caterpillars feed on the foliage and other parts of oaks. Moth caterpillars that feed on White Oak include Acronicta haesitata (Hesitant Dagger Moth), Catocala ilia (Ilia Underwing), Lambdina fervidaria (Curve-Lined Looper), Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth), Valentina glandulella (Acorn Moth), several Cameraria spp. (Blotch Leaf-Miners) and Phyllonorycter spp. (Tentiform Leaf-Miners), and others (see the Moth Table for a more complete listing of species). Other insects that feed on White Oak include the larvae of Acaraspis erinacei (Hedge-Hog Gall Wasp) and other gall wasps, the larvae of Arrhenodes minutus (Oak Timberworm) and other wood-boring beetles (see Wood-Boring Beetle Table), the leaf beetles Cryptocephalus guttulatus and Lupraea picta, Stegophylla quercicola and other aphids, many species of treehoppers (see Treehopper Table), many species of leafhoppers (see Leafhopper Table), Asterolecanium variolosum (Golden Oak Scale), Corythucha arcuata (Oak Lace Bug), Lygocoris quercalbae (Oak Plant Bug) and other plant bugs, and Diapheromera femorata (Northern Walkingstick). Because the acorns of White Oak are produced annually and they are less bitter than those of many other oaks, they are an important source of food for many birds and mammals. Such birds as the Bobwhite, Ring-Necked Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Greater Prairie Chicken, Crow, and Blue Jay eat the acorns, as do such mammals as the Black Bear, Raccoon, Fox Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Red Squirrel, Southern Flying Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, White-Footed Mouse, White-Tailed Deer, and wild hogs. White-Tailed Deer also browse on the twigs and foliage of White Oak, while the Cottontail Rabbit gnaws on the bark and twigs of saplings and seedlings during the winter (Haugen, 1942). Some birds construct nests on the branches of White Oak and other oaks, while other birds nest in the cavities of older trees. Tree squirrels, bats, and raccoons also use the cavities of older trees as dens.
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© John Hilty

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Associated Forest Cover

White oak grows in association with many other trees, the more  important of which are other upland oaks (Quercus spp.),  hickories (Carya spp.), yellowpoplar (Liriodendron  tulipifera), American basswood (Tilia americana), white  ash (Fraxinus americana), sweetgum (Liquidambar  styraciflua), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), American  beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple (Acer  saccharum), shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), loblolly  pine (P.taeda), eastern white pine (P. strobus),  and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). The most  frequent associates are other oaks and the hickories.

    White oak is a major component of three forest cover types (10):  White Oak-Black Oak-Northern Red Oak (Society of American  Foresters Type 52), White Oak (Type 53), and Yellow-Poplar-White  Oak-Northern Red Oak (Type 59). It is a minor component of the  following 28 other forest types:

    Northern Forest Region
  14 Northern Pin Oak
  19 Grey Birch-Red Maple
  21 Eastern White Pine 22 White Pine-Hemlock
  23 Eastern Hemlock
  26 Sugar Maple-Basswood
  27 Sugar Maple
  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
  55 Northern Red Oak
  57 Yellow-Poplar
  58 Yellow-Poplar-Eastern Hemlock
  61 River Birch-Sycamore
  110 Black Oak

    Southern Forest Region
  75 Shortleaf Pine
  76 Shortleaf Pine-Oak
  78 Virginia Pine-Oak
  79 Virginia Pine
  80 Loblolly Pine-Shortleaf Pine
  81 Loblolly Pine
  82 Loblolly Pine-Hardwood
  91 Swamp Chestnut Oak-Cherrybark 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.
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Robert Rogers

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Several insects attack white oak trees  (15,28,43). They are usually not important but may become  epidemic and kill weakened trees. Economically, the most  important are the wood borers. These may damage the wood of  standing trees and cause log and lumber defects.

    White oak is attacked by several leaf eaters including the gypsy  moth (Lymantria dispar), orange-striped oakworm (Anisota  senatoria), variable oakleaf caterpillar (Heterocampa  manteo), several oak leaf tiers (Psilocorsis spp.),  and walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata). Frequently  trees are killed from an interaction of damaging agents such as a  defoliator followed by invasion of a shoestring fungus and the  twolined chestnut borer (Agrilus bilineatus).

    White oak also hosts various scale insects, gall-forming insects,  and twig pruners, but most of these are of minor importance.  White oak acorns are commonly attacked by insects, in some cases  affecting half the total acorn crop. Weevils of the genera Curculio  and Conotrachelus cause most acorn damage. Light acorn  crops usually are more heavily infested than heavy ones. Two  moths damage acorns, the filbertworm (Melissopus  latiferreanus) and Valentinia glandulella. The  Cynipid wasps cause galls to develop in the acorn or on the cup.

    The oak timberworm (Arrhenodes minutus) frequently damages  white oak, making it unfit for tight cooperage. Attacks by this  insect usually occur at wounds made by logging, lightning, and  wind. Golden oak scale (Asterolecanium variolosum) can  seriously damage and even kill the tree. It is especially  damaging when accompanied by drought.

    Decay of heartwood resulting from fire scars causes the most  serious white oak losses. The amount of decay depends on the size  of the wound, the species of fungi, and the length of time since  wounding. In general, rot spreads in the stem if the basal sear  is more than 0.3 m (1 ft) in d.b.h. The larger the wound, the  faster the rot (28).

    Oak wilt, a vascular disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis  fagacearum, is potentially the most destructive disease of  both the red and white oaks. It is widely distributed throughout  the Central States. White oak is less susceptible to oak wilt  than the red oak species, and may lose only a limb at a time, or  may sustain infection by the pathogen without ever showing  symptoms (21).

    Several other diseases of white oak seldom kill or cause much  loss. Perennial cankers induced by bark diseases Strumella  coryneoides and Nectria galligena are responsible for  most of the losses in white oak particularly where ice and snow  accumulation is common. Damage results from a weakening of the  bole at the cankers with subsequent wind breakage. The trunk can  become wholly or partially unmerchantable.

    A root rot caused by the fungus Armillaria mellea attacks  weakened trees. Root rot caused by Armillaria tabescens is  similar and attacks oaks in the South. White root rot caused by  Inonotus dryadeus is common on weak and suppressed trees.

    The fungus Gnomonia veneta causes irregular brown areas on  leaves and shoots. It may cause loss of some leaves and rarely,  complete defoliation.

    Oak leaf blister, caused by Taphrina caerulescens, is  prevalent on eastern oaks, producing blisterlike swellings on the  foliage.

    White oak is moderately resistant to ice breakage, sensitive to  flooding, and resistant to salt spray and brief salt-water  submergence (21,28). It is sensitive to fire injury but less so  than scarlet oak. Coal smoke and the resulting fly ash deposit on  the soil surface substantially reduce white oak productivity  (2,38).

  • 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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Robert Rogers

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, hardwood, prescribed fire

Postfire increases in white oak have been documented as follows after fire in a mixed hardwood community of Rhode Island [22]: size class              burned                        unburned                   density %   BA %              density %       BA % overstory         42.7        23.40             23.6            27.60 1-10 ft. tall     42.4        -----             17.0            ---- < 1 ft. tall      42.3        -----             28.7            ----         

The following Research Project Summaries and a Research Paper by Bowles and others 2007 provide information on managment using prescribed fire and postfire response of several plant species, including white oak, that was not available when this species review was written:

  • 22. Brown, James H., Jr. 1960. The role of fire in altering the species composition of forests in Rhode Island. Ecology. 41(2): 310-316. [5935]

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the term: series

Prescribed fire can be an important tool for regenerating oak stands.
Fire may favor seedling establishment by creating suitable seedbeds and
reducing competing vegetation [100].  A series of low-intensity
prescribed fires prior to timber harvest can promote advanced
regeneration [123].  In the southern Appalachians, biennial summer burns
are often most effective in promoting advance regeneration [123].
Single preharvest or postharvest burns generally have little effect
[123].

Protein content of white oak browse was higher during the year following
low- and high-intensity burns [36].  Calcium levels also tend to
increase in twigs on recently burned sites [11].  Changes in nutritive
value after fire have been documented [11,12,36].
  • 100. Rundel, Philip W. 1980. Adaptations of Mediterranean-climate oaks to environmental stress. In: Plumb, Timothy R., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the symposium on the ecology, management and utilization of California oaks; 1979 June 26-28; Claremont, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-44. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-54. [7014]
  • 11. Boerner, Ralph E. J. 1983. Nutrient dynamics of vegetation and detritus following two intensities of fire in the New Jersey pine barrens. Oecologia. 59: 129-134. [8648]
  • 12. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Cho, Do-Soon. 1987. Structure and composition of Goll Woods, an old-growth forest remnant in northwestern Ohio. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 114(2): 173-179. [8711]
  • 123. Vogel, Willis G. 1990. Results of planting oaks on coal surface-mined lands. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 19. Abstract. [13146]
  • 36. Dills, Gary G. 1970. Effects of prescribed burning on deer browse. Journal of Wildlife Management. 34(3): 540-545. [218]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, fire severity, root crown, severity

White oak commonly sprouts vigorously from the stump or root crown after
aboveground portions of the plant are damaged or killed [11,99].
Sprouting depends on such factors as plant vigor [84], genetic
composition, size, and fire severity and intensity.  White oak probably
stump-sprouts after moderate fires [51], and when completely top-killed,
underground portions often regenerate [100].  Hannah [51] reported that
the "best" sprouts often originate from buds located at or below ground
level.  These sprouts may be more vigorous and less susceptible to rot
or other damage.

White oak seedlings generally sprout after fire, and in many instances,
numbers remain essentially unchanged [97].  Damaged seedlings can often
resprout several times and may ultimately grow beyond the
fire-susceptible stage [51].  Seedlings often develop an enlarged root
crown after frequent fires [11,42].  Sprouting ability typically
decreases with increasing d.b.h. [64].  Pole-sized trees sprout readily
from stumps [32], but older, faster-growing, or taller trees often fail
to sprout [64].

Multiple sprouts, which resemble seedlings, commonly develop after fire
[75] and plant density is often increased.  In the southern
Appalachians, Keetch [65] reported an average of six to seven sprouts
per clump 4 years after fire and 10 to 15 per clump 2 years after
several consecutive fires.

White oak generally responds quickly to release [99].  Previously
suppressed individuals often grow rapidly into the understory soon after
fire [90].  Initial postfire sprout growth is also rapid, and prolific
seed production occurs at an early age [10,14].  Sprouts are commonly
present within one growing season after fire [13].

Rouse [100] reported that most surviving oaks are "capable of minimizing
fire-caused losses due to damaged cambium by rerouting the functions of
fire-killed portions within weeks after a fire."  Large oaks that
survive fire frequently serve as seed sources for burned areas [51];
dying trees often produce a massive seed crop [100].  Birds and mammals
may transport seeds from adjacent unburned areas, and seedling
establishment may occur.
  • 10. Boerner, Ralph E. J. 1981. Forest structure dynamics following wildfire and prescribed burning in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The American Midland Naturalist. 105(2): 321-333. [8649]
  • 100. Rundel, Philip W. 1980. Adaptations of Mediterranean-climate oaks to environmental stress. In: Plumb, Timothy R., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the symposium on the ecology, management and utilization of California oaks; 1979 June 26-28; Claremont, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-44. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-54. [7014]
  • 11. Boerner, Ralph E. J. 1983. Nutrient dynamics of vegetation and detritus following two intensities of fire in the New Jersey pine barrens. Oecologia. 59: 129-134. [8648]
  • 13. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Forman, R. T. T. 1982. Hydrologic and mineral budgets of New Jersey Pine Barrens upland forests following two intensities of fire. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 12: 503-510. [8647]
  • 14. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Lord, Thomas R.; Peterson, John C. 1988. Prescribed burning in the oak-pine forest of the New Jersey Pine Barrens : effects on growth and nutrient dynamics of two Quercus species. The American Midland Naturalist. 120(1): 108-119. [8646]
  • 32. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 42. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 51. Hardin, James W. 1975. Hybridization and introgression in Quercus alba. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 56: 336-363. [10553]
  • 64. Keetch, John J. 1944. Sprout development on once-burned and repeatedly-burned areas in the southern Appalachians. Technical Note No. 59. Asheville,NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [10995]
  • 65. Kline, Virginia M.; Cottam, Grant. 1979. Vegetation response to climate and fire in the driftless area of Wisconsin. Ecology. 60(5): 861-868. [3420]
  • 75. Little, S. 1946. The effects of forest fires on the stand history of New Jersey's Pine Region. Forest Management Paper No. 2. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture,Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 43 p. [11619]
  • 84. Moser, Harold C. 1971. Manufacture of oak furniture, cabinets, and panels. In: White, D. E.; Roach, B. A., co-chairmen. Oak symposium proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 100-102. [13732]
  • 90. Pallardy, S. G.; Nigh, T. A.; Garrett, H. E. 1988. Changes in forest composition in central Missouri: 1968-1982. The American Midland Naturalist. 120(2): 380-390. [9043]
  • 97. Rogers, Lynn. 1976. Effects of mast and berry crop failures on survival, growth, and reproductive success of black bears. Transactions, North American Wildlife Conference. 41: 431-438. [8951]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the terms: severity, tree

Oaks tend to be less susceptible to fire during the dormant season
[100].  Mean white oak mortality after fires in the dormant season was
23 percent, as compared with 69 percent after fires occurring in the
growing season.  Individuals of poor vigor are less likely to heal than
healthy vigorous specimens.  Oaks growing in overstocked stands
typically are less vigorous and thus more susceptible to fire damage.
Crooked or leaning trees are particularly susceptible to damage because
the flames are more likely to be directly below the stem, thereby
increasing the amount of heat received at the bark's surface.  Higher
fire intensity and severity increase mortality and serious injury.
Topographic factors such as aspect and slope can also influence
mortality [78].  Fire mortality also varies with the size of the tree;
fire is more likely to kill smaller white oaks than large ones [76].  A
fire in an oak-pine stand in New Jersey killed 44 percent of trees 1
inch in d.b.h., 5 percent of tree 2 to 4 inches in d.b.h., but no trees
greater than 5 inches in d.b.h. were killed [76].

Toole [117] reported that approximately 20 percent of white oaks
examined were uninjured by fire despite discolored bark.  Bark sloughed
off wounded white oaks within 5 years [117].  Following an early-season
fire in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, some white oaks exhibited
partial crown mortality later in the summer, while others showed no
evidence of significant crown damage [14].  White oak is reportedly
susceptible to fire scars [93] which can permit the entry of insects or
decay that may ultimately kill the tree [100].  However, Kaufert [63]
reported that 50 percent of all fire scars on white oak had healed
within 15 years in a southern bottomland forest [63].  Studies suggest
that basal wounding does not affect growth rates [59].

Large white oaks can survive bark scorch up to two-thirds of their
circumferences [100].  Mortality equations based on d.b.h., and the
width and height of bark blackening have been developed for white oak
[55,78,86].  These equations can be useful in predicting if a
fire-damaged oak will survive [78].
  • 100. Rundel, Philip W. 1980. Adaptations of Mediterranean-climate oaks to environmental stress. In: Plumb, Timothy R., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the symposium on the ecology, management and utilization of California oaks; 1979 June 26-28; Claremont, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-44. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-54. [7014]
  • 117. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573]
  • 14. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Lord, Thomas R.; Peterson, John C. 1988. Prescribed burning in the oak-pine forest of the New Jersey Pine Barrens : effects on growth and nutrient dynamics of two Quercus species. The American Midland Naturalist. 120(1): 108-119. [8646]
  • 55. Hepting, George H.; Hedgcock, George G. 1935. Relation between butt rot and fire in some eastern hardwoods. Tech. Note 14. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [10186]
  • 59. Knapp, Eric E.; Rice, Kevin J. 1998. Genetic structure and gene flow in Elymus glaucus (blue rye): implications for native grassland retoration. Restoration Ecology. 4(1): 1-10. [11875]
  • 63. Kays, Jonathan S.; Smith, David Wm.; Zedaker, Shepard M.; Kreh, Richard E. 1988. Factors affecting natural regeneration of Piedmont hardwoods. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 12(2): 98-102. [5642]
  • 76. Little, S.; Moore, E. B. 1949. The ecological role of prescribed burns in the pine-oak forests of southern New Jersey. Ecology. 30(2): 223-233. [11107]
  • 78. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496]
  • 86. Olson, David F., Jr. 1974. Quercus L. oak. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 692-703. [7737]
  • 93. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: fire severity, severity, tree

White oak is moderately resistant to fire [44,59].  Aerial portions may
be killed by fire [11], but underground regenerative structures
protected by overlying soil usually survive [10,76].  The rough, scaly
bark of white oak is more fire-resistant than the solid bark of many
other oaks [114].  Oaks typically become more fire resistant as the bark
thickens with age [51].

Most oaks will survive periodic fires.  In parts of the New Jersey Pine
Region, most white oaks 25 years and older possessed fire scars; four
fire scars were observed on a 65-year old tree [76].  However, frequent
fires can damage or kill white oaks, and recurrent fires at less than
8-year intervals could eliminate white oak [77].

Approximately 76 percent of white oaks were killed following fire in a
loblolly pine stand in Virginia [4], and an estimated 56.5 percent were
killed after a fire in a New Jersey pine-oak community [106].  Many of
the observed differences in susceptibility of oaks to fire can be
attributed to variation in fire severity and intensity, site
characteristics, plant age or size, form, vigor, season of burn, and
stocking levels [100].

Most acorns are characterized by a relatively high moisture content.  As
the moisture within the acorns is heated, the seeds swell and often
rupture [100].  Therefore, "average" fires kill all white oak acorns
present on-site [44].
  • 10. Boerner, Ralph E. J. 1981. Forest structure dynamics following wildfire and prescribed burning in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The American Midland Naturalist. 105(2): 321-333. [8649]
  • 100. Rundel, Philip W. 1980. Adaptations of Mediterranean-climate oaks to environmental stress. In: Plumb, Timothy R., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the symposium on the ecology, management and utilization of California oaks; 1979 June 26-28; Claremont, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-44. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-54. [7014]
  • 106. Shelford, V. E. 1954. Some lower Mississippi valley flood plain biotic communities; their age and elevation. Ecology. 35(2): 126-142. [4329]
  • 11. Boerner, Ralph E. J. 1983. Nutrient dynamics of vegetation and detritus following two intensities of fire in the New Jersey pine barrens. Oecologia. 59: 129-134. [8648]
  • 114. Starker, T. J. 1932. Fire resistance of trees of northeast United States. Forest Worker. 8(3): 8-9. [81]
  • 4. Allen, Peter H. 1960. Scorch and mortality after a summer burn in loblolly pine. Res. Note No. 144. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [12256]
  • 44. Garrett, H. E.; Thomas, M. W.; Pallardy, S. G. 1989. Susceptibility of sugar maple and oak to eleven foliar-applied herbicides. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 81-85. [9371]
  • 51. Hardin, James W. 1975. Hybridization and introgression in Quercus alba. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 56: 336-363. [10553]
  • 59. Knapp, Eric E.; Rice, Kevin J. 1998. Genetic structure and gene flow in Elymus glaucus (blue rye): implications for native grassland retoration. Restoration Ecology. 4(1): 1-10. [11875]
  • 76. Little, S.; Moore, E. B. 1949. The ecological role of prescribed burns in the pine-oak forests of southern New Jersey. Ecology. 30(2): 223-233. [11107]
  • 77. Loomis, Robert M. 1973. Estimating fire-caused mortality and injury in oak-hickory forests. Res. Pap. NC-94. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 6 p. [8740]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the term: root crown

   survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
   survivor species; on-site surviving roots
   off-site colonizer; seeds carried by animals or water; postfire yr1&2

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire frequency, fire suppression, frequency, root crown

White oak is unable to regenerate beneath the shade of parent trees and
relies on periodic fires for its perpetuation.  The exclusion of fire
has inhibited white oak regeneration through much of its range [121].
Following fire, white oak typically sprouts from the root crown or
stump.  Some postfire seedling establishment may also occur on favorable
sites during favorable years.

Northeast and central states:  Fire has played an important role in
deciduous forests of the eastern United States [100,128].  Evidence
suggests that most oaks (Quercus spp.) are favored by a regime of
relatively frequent fire.  Many present-day oak forests may have
developed in response to recurrent fire.  Declines of oak forests have
been noted throughout much of the East and are often attributed to
reduced fire frequency [2,7,100].
 
The Southeast:  Fire was also a major influence in presettlement forests
of the Southeast [121,123].  In the southern Appalachians, many
present-day oak stands may have developed 60 to 100 years ago with
widespread burning associated with agricultural activities or timber
harvest.  Increased fire suppression has evidently favored more
shade-tolerant hardwoods and resulted in a decrease in oaks [123].

Oak savannas:  White oak formerly assumed importance in open oak
savannas of Wisconsin and Iowa, but with increased fire suppression,
fire-tolerant species such as white oak are being replaced by sugar
maple and other more shade-tolerant species.  Many open savannas are
being converted to dense, forested stands [19,37].
  • 100. Rundel, Philip W. 1980. Adaptations of Mediterranean-climate oaks to environmental stress. In: Plumb, Timothy R., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the symposium on the ecology, management and utilization of California oaks; 1979 June 26-28; Claremont, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-44. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-54. [7014]
  • 121. Van Lear, David H.; Waldrop, Thomas A. 1988. Effects of fire on natural regeneration in the Appalachian Mountains. In: Smith, H. Clay; Perkey, Arlyn W.; Kidd, William E., Jr., eds. Guidelines for regenerating Appalachian hardwood stands: Workshop proceedings; 1988 May 24-26; Morgantown, WV. SAF Publ. 88-03. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Books: 56-70. [13934]
  • 123. Vogel, Willis G. 1990. Results of planting oaks on coal surface-mined lands. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 19. Abstract. [13146]
  • 128. Weckerly, Floyd W.; Sugg, Derrick W.; Semlitsch, Raymond D. 1989. Germination success of acorns (Quercus): insect predation and tannins. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 811-815. [10150]
  • 19. Brewer, Richard; Kitler, Steven. 1989. Tree distribution in southwestern Michigan bur oak openings. Michigan Botanist. 28(2): 73-79. [13005]
  • 2. Abrams, Marc D.; Downs, Julie A. 1990. Successional replacement of old-growth white oak by mixed mesophytic hardwoods in southwestern Pennsylvania. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 20: 1864-1870. [13328]
  • 37. Dorney, Cheryl H.; Dorney, John R. 1989. An unusual oak savanna in northeastern Wisconsin: the effect of Indian-caused fire. The American Midland Naturalist. 122: 103-113. [7892]
  • 7. Auclair, Allan Nelson Douglas. 1968. Dynamics of Prunus serotina in southern Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin. 125 p. Thesis. [12759]

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Successional Status

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More info for the terms: climax, codominant, hardwood, tree

White oak readily regenerates after disturbances such as fire or logging
and often assumes prominence in mid to late seral stages [2,61].  In the
North, white oak is commonly seral to sugar maple and other species
characteristic of mixed mesophytic stands [42].  In much of its range,
it is succeeded by beech and other shade-tolerant species on
well-drained second bottoms and in protected coves [99].  White oak is a
pioneer on frequently burned sites in southern Wisconsin [8], and in
Michigan, readily colonizes agricultural land 15 years after abandonment
[54].  In much of the eastern deciduous woodlands, forests formerly
dominated by white oak, beech, red maple, yellow poplar, and northern
red oak are now being replaced by more shade-tolerant species such as
sugar maple and American basswood [8,91].

White oak cannot regenerate successfully beneath a dense canopy and in
many areas, grows in forests transitional to climax sugar maple or mixed
mesophytic forests [2,34].  Because of the longevity of white oak,
climax development proceeds very slowly [2].  White oaks may persist on
exposed sites within climax stands [8].

White oak is considered a climax tree in oak-hickory stands in the
central and southern hardwood forest zone [99].  It grows as a climax
dominant or codominant on certain lower elevation sites in the Smoky
Mountains [130] and occurs in climax pine-oak forests of New Jersey
[77].  It also assumes importance in climax floodplain oak-hickory
forests of Tennessee [107].  White oak is represented in mixed hardwood
old growth stands of northwestern Ohio [12].  Old-growth oak-hickory
forests of southern Michigan [50], and in old-growth oak communities of
eastern Tennessee [81].  Pine-oak forests cyclically replace
beech-magnolia forests after disturbance in parts of southeastern Texas
[47] and Louisiana.
  • 107. 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]
  • 12. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Cho, Do-Soon. 1987. Structure and composition of Goll Woods, an old-growth forest remnant in northwestern Ohio. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 114(2): 173-179. [8711]
  • 130. Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p. [12908]
  • 2. Abrams, Marc D.; Downs, Julie A. 1990. Successional replacement of old-growth white oak by mixed mesophytic hardwoods in southwestern Pennsylvania. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 20: 1864-1870. [13328]
  • 34. Curtis, J. T.; McIntosh, R. P. 1951. An upland forest continuum in the prairie-forest border region of Wisconsin. Ecology. 32: 476-496. [6927]
  • 42. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 47. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 50. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 54. Hepting, George H. 1941. Prediction of cull following fire in Appalachian oaks. Journal of Agricultural Research. 62(2): 109-120. [13660]
  • 61. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954]
  • 77. Loomis, Robert M. 1973. Estimating fire-caused mortality and injury in oak-hickory forests. Res. Pap. NC-94. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 6 p. [8740]
  • 8. Auclair, Allan N.; Cottam, Grant. 1971. Dynamics of black cherry (Prunus serotina Erhr.) in southern Wisconsin oak forests. Ecological Monographs. 41(2): 153-177. [8102]
  • 81. McIntyre, A. C. 1936. Sprout groups and their relation to the oak forests of Pennsylvania. Journal of Forestry. 34: 1054-1058. [10086]
  • 91. Park, Barry C. 1942. The yield and persistence of wildlife food plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 6(2): 118-121. [7446]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: cover, fresh, litter, natural, presence, selection, series, tree

White oak reproduces through seed and by vegetative means.  Both modes
of regeneration appear to be important.

Seed:  White oak produces good acorn crops at erratic intervals.  Good
crops have been reported at 4- to 10-year [148] and at 3- to 5-year
intervals [118].  Vigorous crowned trees greater than 20 inches d.b.h.
(51 cm) generally produce the best seed crops [57].  Pollen, which is
produced in abundance, is dispersed by wind, but generally travels less
than 656 feet (200 m) [46,58].  Plants generally bear fruit between 50
and 200 years of age, but open-grown trees on good sites may produce
seed as early as 20 years of age [99,148].  Reproduction from seed can
occur when (1) large seed trees are present within 200 feet (61 m), (2)
litter cover is moderate, and (3) the site receives at least 35 percent
of full sunlight [148].

Seeds of white oak do not store well [16].  Seed longevity is less than
1 year; white oak is not considered a seed banker [60].  Viability in
storage declines from 90 percent for fresh seed to 7.0 percent for seed
stored for 6 months [16].  Only 14 to 18 percent of the total seed
produced may be sound [148].  Many acorns are damaged or destroyed by
insects [144] or bird and mammal seed predators.  Several studies have
reported that animals consumed 72 to 83 percent of all white oak acorns
[135].  In years of poor acorn production, the entire seed crop may be
eliminated [148].

Acorn production:  Acorn production varies annually with the individual
tree or stand [148].  Certain trees tend to produce larger acorn crops
on a consistent basis [119].  Weather conditions, and tree size and vigor,
also influence acorn production.  An individual oak 69 feet (21 m) tall
with a d.b.h. of 25 inches (63.5 cm) produced more than 23,000 acorns in
a favorable year [148].  However, most forest-grown trees produce less
than 10,000 acorns annually.  Annual yields may range from 0 to 202,000
acorns per acre (500,000/ha) [148].  Acorn production may be reduced by
cool April temperatures [119] and drought [118].

Seed dispersal:  In parts of Michigan, the blue jay is the primary
dispersal agent of white oak [60].  Blue jays commonly exhibit a
preference for burying acorns in bare open areas which are well suited
for germination [60].  Gray squirrels are also important dispersal
agents in many locations and are the only known long-distance disperser
[35,148].  The now-extinct passenger pigeon may have effected
long-distance dispersal of many eastern oaks [21].  Wind and gravity
also aid in seed dispersal [148].

Germination:  White oak acorns do not exhibit dormancy [16].  In
storage, seeds germinate readily at temperatures of 33 to 37 degrees F
(1-3 deg C) [16].  Under natural conditions, acorns begin germinating
soon after they fall [35].  Acorns require a cover of litter for good
germination and seedling establishment [86].  Acorns without such
protection are often damaged or killed by frost or drought [86].
Germination capacity ranges from 50 to 99 percent [148].

Seedling establishment:  Seedling establishment is generally limited to
years of abundant acorn production [148].  Light to moderate litter
cover and periods of full sunlight are required for establishment.
Establishment is best on loose soils [30].

Vegetative regeneration:  White oak exhibits a number of modes of
vegetative regeneration.  Vigorous sprouting from the stump or root
crown is commonly observed after fire, mechanical damage, and other
types of disturbance.  Sprouting generally decreases with increasing
stem diameter [64], although trees up to 80 years of age occasionally
retain the ability to sprout [42].  Small poles, saplings, and even
seedlings sprout readily if cut or burned [51].  Stump-sprouting by
diameter class has been reported as follows [99]:

      d.b.h. (inches)   percent of stumps likely to sprout

      2 to 5                        80
      6 to 11                       50
      12 to 16                      15
      16 +                           0         
     
Repeated sprouting is commonly observed [125].  Seedlings often develop
an "s"-shaped curve at ground level, which helps protect dormant buds
from fire [100].  Root stools develop under the ground surface after
repeated fires or herbivory.  These root stools, made up of callus
tissue filled with dormant buds, typically sprout vigorously in the
absence of further disturbance [100].

Seedling sprouts persist beneath the forest canopy even in the absence
of disturbance.  Although the top dies back every few years, the root
system continues to develop and plants may persist for up to 90 years or
more [99].  As the forest canopy is opened, the seedling sprouts grow
rapidly [99].  Epicormic branches or water sprouts often develop from
dormant buds located on the boles [16,23].  Buds are stimulated to
sprout by sudden shifts in light intensity, partial removal of the
crown, and a loss of plant vigor [16].  Bud dormancy in oaks is largely
controlled by auxins rather than by levels of carbohydrate reserves
[125].  Apical dominance can restrict the development of belowground
buds when buds survive on aboveground portions of the plant.  Sprouting
is reduced by low light levels [125] and decreases as the stand ages
[82].  McIntyre [82] reported that the number of sprout groups decreases
from poor to good sites.

Silviculture:  Oaks often regenerate poorly after timber harvest.
Hannah [51] reported that the use of natural seedbeds and standard
silvicultural practices are often ineffectual in promoting oak
regeneration.  The presence of vigorous advanced regeneration is
essential for producing good stands of oaks after timber harvest
[29,88,102].  For adequate regeneration of oaks, advanced regeneration
of at least 4.5 feet (1.4 m) in height should number at least 435 per
acre (1,074/ha) prior to harvest [99,102].  A series of selection cuts
can produce stands with several age classes and can generate sufficient
advanced regeneration for well-stocked postharvest stands.  Initial cuts
should reduce overstory densities to no less than 60 percent stocking
[102].  Reduction of competing understory species may also be necessary
in some instances [102].

Mechanical treatment:  Sprouts tend to be larger and taller when white
oaks are cut during the dormant season [64].  Sprout growth by season
has been reported in detail [64].
  • 100. Rundel, Philip W. 1980. Adaptations of Mediterranean-climate oaks to environmental stress. In: Plumb, Timothy R., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the symposium on the ecology, management and utilization of California oaks; 1979 June 26-28; Claremont, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-44. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-54. [7014]
  • 102. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 118. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
  • 119. Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals. Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428. [11983]
  • 125. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 16. Bowersox, T. W.; Ward, W. W. 1968. Auxin inhibition of epicormic shoots in white oak. Forest Science. 14: 192-196. [9961]
  • 21. Brothers, Timothy S. 1988. Indiana surface-mine forests: historical development and composition of a human-created vegetation complex. Southeastern Geographer. 28(1): 19-33. [8787]
  • 23. Burns, Paul Y.; Nichols, J. Milford. 1952. Oak pruning in the Missouri Ozarks. University of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin. 581(Apr): 1-8. [10156]
  • 29. Clark, F. Bryan; Watt, Richard F. 1971. Silvicultural methods for regenerating oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 37-43. [9080]
  • 30. Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124]
  • 35. DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management. 19(1): 65-70. [7343]
  • 42. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 46. Glitzenstein, Jeff S.; Harcombe, Paul A.; Streng, Donna R. 1986. Disturbance, succession, and maintenance of species diversity in an east Texas forest. Ecological Monographs. 56(3): 243-258. [9670]
  • 51. Hardin, James W. 1975. Hybridization and introgression in Quercus alba. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 56: 336-363. [10553]
  • 57. Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  • 58. Jemison, George M. 1944. The effect of basal wounding by forest fires on the diameter growth of some southern appalachian hardwoods. Bulletin 9. Durham, NC: Duke University, School of Forestry. 63 p. [8716]
  • 60. Jones, Steven M. 1989. Application of landscape ecosystem classification in identifying productive potential of pine-hardwood stands. In: Waldrop, Thomas A., ed. Proceedings of pine-hardwood mixtures: a symposium on management and ecology of the type; 1989 April 18-19; Atlanta, GA. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-58. Asheville, SC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 64-69. [10259]
  • 64. Keetch, John J. 1944. Sprout development on once-burned and repeatedly-burned areas in the southern Appalachians. Technical Note No. 59. Asheville,NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [10995]
  • 82. Millers, Imants; Shriner, David S.; Rizzo, David. 1989. History of hardwood decline in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-126. Bromall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 75 p. [10925]
  • 86. Olson, David F., Jr. 1974. Quercus L. oak. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 692-703. [7737]
  • 88. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests. 1953. Forest tree planting. 2d ed. Bull. No. R 1. Toronto, Canada: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Division of Reforestation. 68 p. [12130]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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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

White oak is generally classed as  intermediate in tolerance to shade. It is most tolerant in youth  and becomes less tolerant as the tree becomes larger. White oak  seedlings, saplings, and even pole-size trees are nevertheless  able to persist under a forest canopy for more than 90 years.

    Saplings and pole-size trees respond well to release. A 41 percent  increase in diameter has resulted in young stands 1 year  following release, and this trend has continued through the  fourth year following release. Moreover, diameter growth of  released trees for a 20-year period can be expected to be double  that of nonreleased trees. Release significantly increases height  growth only for those trees in the intermediate or suppressed  crown classes. Young white oak sprout clumps thinned to one stem  show a slightly greater diameter growth response over released  single-stemmed trees (8,28,29). Such increases are possible when  stands are heavily thinned, but the response becomes less  dramatic as residual stand stocking increases. Other things being  equal, however, the trees to release should be the large  potential crop trees that show evidence of rapid recent growth.

    Thinning combined with fertilization can boost 2-year diameter  growth by 95 percent over unthinned and unfertilized pole-size  white oak according to tests conducted in the Boston Mountains of  Arkansas (19). The addition of nitrogen and calcium to soils in  the Allegheny Plateau region of central Pennsylvania increased  stand volume more than 40 percent (42).

    White oak usually becomes dominant in the stand because of its  ability to persist for long periods of time in the understory,  its ability to respond well after release, and its great  longevity. When associated with other oaks and hickory in the  central and southern hardwood forests, white oak is considered a  climax tree. On good sites in the north, it is usually succeeded  by sugar maple. In the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands, white oak is  climax on moderately dry to moist sites. In sheltered, moist  coves and well-drained second bottoms throughout its range it may  be succeeded by beech and other more tolerant species (10).

    Most research and field experience suggest that even-aged  silviculture is most suitable for white oak growing in pure or  mixed hardwood stands. Although selection silviculture has been  considered, it has been difficult to develop a sustainable stand  structure without continual cultural treatments to restrain the  more tolerant species, particularly on the better sites (34).

    If oak advance reproduction is adequate, clearcutting is the  recommended silvicultural system (32). if oak advance  reproduction is scarce or absent, new seedlings need to be  established. Some reduction of overstory density should help to  stimulate seed production, but because of the periodicity of seed  crops, it will probably take a long time to establish an adequate  number of new seedlings. Seedlings can be planted under an  overstory and allowed to develop. The overstory should be  maintained at about 60 percent stocking and if competition from  an existing understory will impair the growth of the planted  seedlings, its density should be reduced. Planting oaks after  clearcutting has generally been unsatisfactory because the  planted seedlings do not grow fast enough to compete with new  sprouts. Reducing both overstory and understory competition is  likely to accelerate the growth of small oak advance  reproduction. However, even with this increased growth, advance  oak reproduction grows slowly and the development period may be  from 10 to 20 years or longer.

    Natural pruning of white oak is usually good in moderately to  heavily stocked stands. Large dominant trees have cleaner boles  than smaller trees in lower crown classes. Some branches along  the trunk tend to persist when exposed to sunlight. Epicormic  sprouting may be heavy on trees that have been grown in fully  stocked stands for 20 years or more and then given sudden and  heavy release (28). However, residual stand density and the vigor  of trees may be more important to the persistence of epicormics  than to their initiation following thinning (41). Significantly  more epicormic branches have been observed on multiple-stemmed  trees than on single-stemmed trees.

    Live branches not more than 4 cm (1.5 in) in d.b.h. may be  saw-pruned without danger of introducing rot. However, epicormic  sprouts will often develop around the edges of the wound on  saplings and small pole-size trees. Diameter growth of thinned  and pruned trees may be 10 percent less than thinned but unpruned  trees (35).

  • 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)

Robert Rogers

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

White oak is deep rooted-a trait that  persists from youth to maturity. White oak seedlings produce a  conspicuous, well-developed taproot but this gradually disappears  with age and is replaced by a fibrous root system with  well-developed, tapered laterals. Although the deepest point of  root penetration observed during a study conducted at the Harvard  Black Rock Forest in Massachusetts approached 1.2 m (4 ft), most   of the main branches away from the central stem were within 53.3  cm (21 in) of the ground surface. Fine roots are typically  concentrated in dense mats in the upper soil horizons usually  close to trunks but occasionally lying beneath the base of  neighboring trees (5,14,39).

    Root grafts between neighboring trees are common, especially under  crowded conditions.

    The ratio between the area of the root system and the area of the  crown ranges from 3.4 to 1 to 5.8 to 1.

    Following stand thinning, roots of released trees are capable of  elongating at the rate of 0.24 m (0.8 ft) per year.

    Root regeneration of young forest-grown seedlings may be hampered  following top damage. A study of root regeneration of 1-0 white  oak seedlings growing under greenhouse conditions has shown that  new growth of seedlings whose shoot tops were pruned was 20 to 80  percent less than that of unpruned seedlings (12).

  • 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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Robert Rogers

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Leaves begin to develop and new shoots are initiated in mid-March to
late May, depending on geographic location [99].  The timing of bud
break is largely dependent on latitude [99] but also depends on soil
nutrient levels [18] and weather.  Bell and others [18] observed delayed
budbreak on copper, lead, and zinc-mineralized sites.  Most vegetative
growth takes place during the spring, with up to 50 percent of seedling
height growth attained in April [99].  Fowells [42] reported that
seedling height growth was 90 percent complete by July 1.  Plants may
become dormant in late fall, although leaves commonly persist into
winter [28].

Flowering generally occurs in spring when the new leaves are elongating
[32] but varies according to latitude, weather conditions, and with the
genetic composition of individual trees [99,104,105].  Flowering can
occur from late March to May [99] or June [103].  In Pennsylvania,
pistillate catkins emerge in late April or May, approximately 5 to 10
days after the emergence of staminate flowers [105].  Sharp and Chisman
[104] observed trees within the same population flowering early (May 5
to May 11) and late (May 13 to May 19).  Three distinct waves of
flowering (early, middle, and late) have been reported.  Warm weather
speeds up floral development, which begins after exposure to minimum
temperatures of 50 degrees F (10 deg C) for at least 10 days [104].
Pollen is generally shed within 3 days, but light winds can accelerate
shedding [104].  Pollen shedding is often delayed by prolonged rainy
weather [104]. 

Acorns typically ripen approximately 120 days after pollination [99].
In Pennsylvania, embryos generally begin development after July 24, grow
rapidly by August 4, and reach full size by August 25 [105].  Acorns
fall from the trees by September or October [99,105].  Generalized
flowering and fruit ripening dates by geographic location are as
follows:

Location          Flowering         Fruit ripe        Authority

PA                April-May         ----              Sharp and Sprague 1967
NC, SC            April             Sept.-Nov.        Radford and others 1968
New England       May 21-June 3     ----              Seymour 1985
Blue Ridge Mtns.  April-May         ----              Wofford 1989
Adirondack Mtns.  May               Sept.             Chapman & Besette 1990 
nc Great Plains   May               Oct.              Stephens 1973          
WV                ----              Oct. 3            Park 1942
  • 103. Sharp, Ward M.; Chisman, Henry H. 1961. Flowering and fruiting in the white oaks. I. Staminate flowering through pollen dispersal. Ecology. 42: 365-372. [3910]
  • 104. Sharp, Ward M.; Sprague, Vance G. 1967. Flowering and fruiting in the white oaks, pistillate flowering, acorn development, weather, and yields. Ecology. 48: 243-251. [3909]
  • 105. Shaw, Samuel P. 1971. Wildlife and oak management. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 84-89. [9087]
  • 18. Bell, R.; Labovitz, M. L.; Sullivan, D. P. 1985. Delay in leaf flush associated with a heavy metal-enriched soil. Economic Geology. 80: 1407-1414. [11014]
  • 28. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 32. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 42. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering in spring.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Small white oak trees sprout  prolifically and vigorously when cut or damaged by fire. The  ability to sprout depends on the d.b.h. of the parent trees as  follows (23):

   

    D.b.h.  classes    Stumps  likely to sprout            cm  in    percent    5 to 14  2 to 5    80     14 to 29  6 to 11    50    29 to 42  12 to 16    15    42-  16-    0       

    Shoot elongation of stump sprouts increases with increasing stump  diameter up to 15 cm (6 in) after which it declines. Annual  height growth of stump sprouts when overstory competition is  removed averages 0.7 ni (2.2 ft) (24).

    Another source of vegetative reproduction is seedling sprouts.  Seedling sprouts are stems with root systems that are several to  many years older. These develop as a result of repeated dieback  or mechanical damage.

    In general, low stump sprouts from pole-size trees and seedling  sprouts are about as good as trees grown from seed. However,  sprouts originating high on the stump are likely to have  heartwood decay (28).

    The seedlings and seedling sprouts already present in a mature  stand (advance reproduction), together with stump sprouts,  regenerate the stand with oaks following overstory removal.  Although many stands may have adequate numbers of stems, the size  of the reproduction when the overstory is removed is the key to  adequate growth and subsequent stocking (31). A minimum of 1,095  stems per hectare (443/acre) that are 1.37 m (4.5 ft) tall or  taller is required to ensure a future stocking of at least 546  dominant and codominant oaks per hectare (221/acre) when average  stand diameter is 7.6 cm (3 in) (33). Nevertheless, stands  deficient in advance reproduction may be adequately stocked if a  sufficient number of stumps sprout.

  • 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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Seedling Development

Germination is hypogeal. Sound white  oak acorns have a germination capacity between 50 and 99 percent  (30). Seeds germinate in the fall soon after dropping, requiring  no pretreatment for germination. For germination to occur, the  moisture content of acorns must not fall below 30 to 50 percent.  Germination is favored at soil temperatures between 10° and  16° C (50° and 60° F). Germination is severely  limited after 15 days of exposure to flooded conditions (1). When  acorns germinate, their roots begin to grow but the shoot remains  dormant. This trait serves to protect it from damage by freezing  (11).

    After germination, root growth continues until interrupted by cold  weather. Broken radicles are replaced on freshly sprouted seeds.  Root and shoot growth resumes in the spring, and after the first  growing season, seedlings 7.6 to 10.2 cm (3 to 4 in) high  normally develop a large taproot 6 to 13 mm (0.25 to 0.50 in) in  diameter and more than 30.5 em (12 in) long.

    Oak seedling establishment is best on loose soil because the  radicle cannot penetrate excessively compact surfaces. A humus  layer is especially important because it keeps the soil surface  loose and porous and because it mechanically supports the acorn  as the radicle penetrates the soil (28).

    If climate and soil are favorable for germination, white oak  reproduces adequately from seed when: (1) large seed trees are  within about 61 m (200 ft); (2) litter cover is light to moderate  (but not thick); and (3) light reaching seedling level is at  least 35 percent of full sunlight. Reproduction is least abundant  on moist sites that have a thick carpet of ferns and lesser  vegetation (6). Seedlings persist more readily in open stands  typical of dry exposures but can be maintained on moist sites if  adequate sunlight reaches the forest floor.

    Although important, soil moisture is probably not a critical  factor in determining early seedling survival except under  unusually dry conditions. At least one study has shown that when  available soil moisture was 19 percent of oven dry soil weight,  white oak seedling survival was 98 percent; at 3 percent  available moisture, survival was 87 percent (28).

    A Missouri study has shown that despite an adequate crop of sound  acorns, the number of new white oak seedlings produced in any  given year is low compared to other oaks, particularly black oak  Quercus velutina). However, these individuals may persist in the  understory for many years (90 years) by repeatedly dying back and  resprouting. This phenomenon permits the gradual buildup of  advance reproduction that is often taller and more numerous than  the advance reproduction of associated oaks.

    Under ideal growing conditions it is common for individual  seedlings to grow 0.6 m (2 ft) or more a year. However, white oak  seedlings established at the time of overstory removal normally  grow too slowly to be of value in stand reproduction. Mean height  of seedlings 10 years after overstory removal on sites with a  site index of 13 to 19 in (43 to 63 ft) at base age 50 years in  Missouri was slightly more than 0.6 m (2 ft) while seedling  sprouts and stump sprouts averaged 4.9 and 6.4 m (16 and 21 ft),  respectively (27).

  • 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

White oak can produce  seeds prolifically, but good acorn crops are irregular and occur  only every 4 to 10 years. Sometimes several years may pass  without a crop. Acorn yields range from 0 to 500,000 acorns per  hectare (202,000/acre) (7,22,28). This great variation in acorn  production exists not only among isolated stands of oaks but also  among individual trees within stands and from year to year.

    Trees normally bear seeds between the ages of 50 and 200 years,  sometimes older; however, opengrown trees may produce seeds as  early as 20 years. Individual white oak trees tend to have either  very good or very poor seed crops and are noticeably consistent  in seed production from year to year (20,28,36,40). A recent  study (13) showed that white oak flower production varies not  only annually but also among trees within a given year and that  much of the variation in acorn production can be related to  flower abundance at the time of pollination. More than 23,000  acorns were produced during a good seed year by an individual  white oak tree growing in Virginia; it was 69 years old, 63.5 cm  (25 in) in d.b.h., and 21 in (69 ft) tall, and had a crown area  of 145 m² (1,560 ft²) . Average production in good  years for individual forest-grown trees, however, is probably no  more than 10,000 acorns.

    Several studies have shown that only a small portion of the total  mature acorn crop (sometimes only 18 percent) is sound and fully  developed; the remainder is damaged or destroyed by animals and  insects (15,28,40). However, some damaged acorns germinate if the  embryo is not damaged. Light acorn crops are often completely  destroyed by animals and insects, so seedlings are produced only  during heavy crop years.

    Seeds are disseminated by rodents (chiefly squirrels and mice),  gravity, and wind. The area seeded by individual trees is small  and therefore widespread reproduction depends on adequate  distribution of seedbearing trees.

  • 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

White oak flowers in the spring at  about the same time leaves appear. The time may vary from late  March to late May depending upon latitude. It is monoecious;  flowers of both sexes are present on the same tree. The yellowish  staminate flowers appear first and are home in 5- to 8-cm (2- to  3-in) catkins. The reddish pistillate flowers appear 5 to 10 days  later either singly or in pairs on short stalks. Female flowers   that are not fertilized abscise during the development period.  High abscission rates are common and may be related to weather  conditions during the period of pollination, ovule development,  and fertilization (44). Ripe anthers open and close with changes  in relative humidity. Normally, pollen dissemination is completed  within 3 days but periods of wet weather delay pollen shedding.  Dry winds and freezing weather are also detrimental to flower  development and pollen shedding (28). Acorn crops are good in  years when the weather is warm for 10 days during flowering and  then cool for 13 to 20 days afterward. The acorn crop has been  poor in years when cool periods preceded warm periods at the time  of flowering (36).

    Acorn maturity is reached approximately 120 days after  pollination. Acorn drop follows 25 days later and is complete  within a month. Physiological maturity, as indicated by normal  germination, is reached when acorns change color from green to  light brown (4). Acorns germinate almost immediately after  falling to the ground in September or October.

  • 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

White oak is a large, long-lived tree  often 24 to 30 ni (80 to 100 ft) in height and 91 to 122 cm (36  to 48 in) in d.b.h. Individual trees 46 m (150 ft) high, 244 cm  (96 in) in d.b.h., and 600 years old have been recorded. In the  open it is characterized by a short stocky bole with a  widespreading rugged crown. In the forest, white oaks develop a  tall straight trunk with a compact crown (28).

    White oak generally has the reputation of being a slow-growing  tree. According to growth averages from Forest Resources  Evaluation data in the Central States, 10-year d.b.h. growth of  white oak was 3.0 cm (1.20 in) for seedlings and saplings, 3.5 cm  (1.37 in) for poles, and 4.7 cm (1.84 in) for sawtimber. These  growth rates were slower than scarlet oak Quercus coccinea),  northern red oak (Q. rubra), or black oak but faster  than chestnut oak (Q. prinus). Among the non-oak species  only hickory and beech had slower growth rates than white oak,  while yellow-poplar, black walnut (Juglans nigra), white  ash, and sugar maple all had faster growth rates than white oak  (16).

    Although white oak was once a component of mixed, uneven-aged  stands, most white oaks today are in pure to mixed second growth  stands of sprout origin. Individual trees may contain 5.7 m³  (1,000 fbm) or more of wood but this is uncommon. Pure and mixed  unthinned stands at age 80 normally contain from 28 to 168 m³/ha  (2,000 to 12,000 fbm/acre) of wood, occasionally more. Mean  annual volume growth over a 60-year period in these stands ranges  from 0.95 m³/ha on fair to poor sites to 2.2 m³/ha on  good sites (68 fbm/acre to 156 fbm/acre) (17). Total volumes of  fully stocked, even-aged stands of mixed oak have been reported  to be 89.3 m³/ha (6,380 ft³/acre) at age 100 on site  index 24.4 m (80 ft) sites; and merchantable volumes of 294 m³/ha  (21,000 fbm/acre) have been found in stands on comparable sites  in Wisconsin at age 100. However, such high volumes are rare and  occur in localized areas (28).

    Because oaks in general, and white oak specifically, are  long-lived trees, rotation length can be long (120+ years). But  rotation lengths can be shortened by as much as 50 percent and  yields increased dramatically if stands are thinned early and  regularly, particularly on good sites. If thinnings are begun at  age 10 and stands rethinned to 60 percent stocking at 10-year  intervals, volume yield at age 60 on good sites (264 m³/ha  or 18,840 fbm/acre) is approximately double that in similar  unthinned stands. Mean annual growth in such thinned stands is  3.9 m³/ha (279 fbm/acre) (17).

    Throughout its range, site index for white oak is generally less  than for yellow-poplar and other important oaks on the same site  (26,28). White oak site index is approximately 1.2 ni (4 ft) less  than black oak and 2.1 in (7 ft) less than scarlet oak. On all  sites the index for white oak is higher than that for shortleaf  pine. And on the poorest sites, the index for white oak is higher  than that for yellow-poplar.

  • 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

In addition to the type variety, two varieties of Quercus alba  have been named: Q. alba var. repanda Michx.  and Q. alba var. latiloba Sarg.

    Seven hybrids are recognized: Quercus x jackiana Schneid.  (Q. alba x bicolor); Q. x bebbiana Schneid. (Q. alba  x macrocarpa); Q. x beadlei Trel. (Q. alba x michauxii);  Q. x faxonii Trel. (Q. alba x prinoides); Q. x saulli  Schneid. (Q. alba x prinus); Q. x fernowii Trel. (Q.  alba x stellata); Q. x bimundorum Palmer (Q. alba x-  robur).

    White oak also hybridizes with the following: Durand oak (Quercus  durandii), overcup oak (Q. lyrata), and chinkapin oak  (Q. muehlenbergii).

  • 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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Quercus alba naturally hybridizes with Q. macrocarpa (Q. x bebbiana), Q. muehlenbergii (Q. x deamii), and Q. montana (Q. x saulei).

[from vPlants.org, accessed 7 January 2009]

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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Quercus alba

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Quercus alba

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

White oak is attacked by several insects: leaf eaters including gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), orangestriped oakworm (Anisota senatoria), oakleaf caterpillar (Heterocampa manteo), oak leaf tiers (Psilocorsis spp.) and walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata); Golden oak scale (Asterolecanium variolosum); gall forming insects like Cynipid wasps; and twig pruners, but none of these pose serious insect problems. White oak is also susceptible to perennial cankers induced by bark diseases like Strumella coryneoides and Nectria galligena; root rot caused by Armillaria mellea, Armillaria tabescens and Inonotus dryadeus; irregular brown areas on leaves and shoots caused by Gnomonia veneta; and oak blister caused by Taphrina caerulescens. The species has good resistance to oak wilt.

Existing trees are very sensitive to disturbances in their root zones caused by grading, soil compaction, or changes in drainage patterns; if severe, these disturbances can lead to mortality.

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Management

Management considerations

Chemical control:  Oaks often produce basal sprouts in response to
herbicide treatments [50].

Damage:  White oak can be damaged by frost or drought.  It is also
sensitive to periodic flooding [64].

Environmental considerations:  White oak is sensitive to excessive ozone
[64].

Grazing:  Intensive grazing can reduce the number of trees present and
aid in the regeneration of white oak through seed [8].

Wildlife considerations:  Acorns are a particularly important food
source for black bears in many areas.  Acorn crop failures have been
correlated with increases in damage to crops, livestock, and beehives by
bears [112].
  • 112. Sork, Victoria L.; Stacey, Peter; Averett, John E. 1983. Utilization of red oak acorns in non-bumper crop year. Oecologia. 59: 49-53. [4593]
  • 50. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 64. Keetch, John J. 1944. Sprout development on once-burned and repeatedly-burned areas in the southern Appalachians. Technical Note No. 59. Asheville,NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [10995]
  • 8. Auclair, Allan N.; Cottam, Grant. 1971. Dynamics of black cherry (Prunus serotina Erhr.) in southern Wisconsin oak forests. Ecological Monographs. 41(2): 153-177. [8102]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Seeds are commercially available at forest seed companies.

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White oak is generally classified as intermediate in its tolerance to shade. Its tolerance decreases as a tree becomes older and larger. Thinning combined with fertilization can boost diameter growth. White oak usually becomes dominant because of its ability to persist for long periods of time in the understory, its ability to respond well after thinning, and its great longevity. Even-aged silviculture is most suitable if oaks are growing in pure or mixed hardwood stands. Reducing both overstory and understory competition is likely to accelerate the growth of seedlings.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Wildlife: Acorns are eaten by squirrels, blue jays, crows, red-headed woodpeckers, deer, turkey, quail, mice, chipmunks, ducks and raccoons.

Timber: White oak’s wood is strong and durable for staves for barrels, lumber, flooring, and interior woodwork.

Recreation and Beautification: White oak is an excellent ornamental tree because of its broad round crown, dense foliage, and purplish-red to violet-purple fall color.

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Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, mesic to dry-mesic conditions, and deep loamy soil. However, this oak also adapts to other kinds of soil, including those that contain silt-loam, sandy loam, clay-loam, and gravelly or rocky material. This slow-growing tree can live up to 600 years. Because of its long taproot, it is sometimes difficult to transplant. Locations prone to flooding should be avoided.
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Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Building materials/timber

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: tree

Acorns were traditionally an important food source for many Native
American peoples [134].  White oak acorns have been described variously
as sweet and edible [131] and as slightly bitter [43].  The acorns were
often boiled to remove bitter tannins [35].  Oils obtained from pressed
acorns were used to alleviate pain in the joints [63].

White oak is commonly used in landscaping [125] and is often planted as
a shade tree or ornamental [43,148.  Its colorful purplish-red to
violet-purple foliage enhances its ornamental value in autumn [125,148].
White oak was first cultivated in 1724 [99].
  • 125. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 35. DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management. 19(1): 65-70. [7343]
  • 43. Garren, Kenneth H. 1943. Effects of fire on vegetation of the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 9: 617-654. [9517]
  • 63. Kays, Jonathan S.; Smith, David Wm.; Zedaker, Shepard M.; Kreh, Richard E. 1988. Factors affecting natural regeneration of Piedmont hardwoods. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 12(2): 98-102. [5642]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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Cover Value

More info for the terms: cover, tree

White oak provides good cover for a wide variety of birds and mammals.
Oak leaves often persist longer than many other plant associates and in
some areas, young oaks may represent the only brushy winter cover in
dense pole stands [120].  Oaks frequently serve as perching or nesting
sites for various songbirds [29].  The well-developed crowns provide
shelter and hiding cover for small mammals such as tree squirrels.  Many
birds and mammals use twigs and leaves as nesting materials [90].  Large
oaks provide denning sites for a variety of mammals [29].
  • 120. Van Lear, David H.; Johnson, Von J. 1983. Effects of prescribed burning in the southern Appalachian and upper Piedmont forests: a review. Forestry Bull. No. 36. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, Collage of Forest and Recreation Resources, Department of Forestry. 8 p. [11755]
  • 29. Clark, F. Bryan; Watt, Richard F. 1971. Silvicultural methods for regenerating oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 37-43. [9080]
  • 90. Pallardy, S. G.; Nigh, T. A.; Garrett, H. E. 1988. Changes in forest composition in central Missouri: 1968-1982. The American Midland Naturalist. 120(2): 380-390. [9043]

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Nutritional Value

More info for the term: fire management

Browse:  The nutritional value of white oak browse varies
geographically, and with site history and phenological development.
Annual variation has also been observed [40].  Foliar nitrogen content
was measured at 1.40 percent in Tennessee but averaged only 0.7 percent
in New York [114].  The calcium content of leaves tends to increase
slowly as the growing season progresses [15].  Calcium levels of twigs,
and protein and phosphorus content of the foliage, are generally higher
on recently burned sites [12,15,40].  Total solids, ash, ether extract,
crude fiber, and N-free extract appear to be unaffected by fire [40].
[see Fire Management Considerations].  Winter nutrient content of white
oak browse in Texas has been documented as follows [78]:

protein     fat     fiber     N-free     ash    phosphoric    Ca
                              extract           acid
                  percent at 15 percent moisture

  3.89      1.46    34.22      42.43     3.00     0.13        1.67

Acorns:  Acorns are nutritious [57] and high in carbohydrates [59].
White oak acorns are relatively low in protein, crude fiber, and
potassium [16,123,142] but high in digestible cell contents such as
fats, starches, sugars, and pectins [123].  White oak acorns tend to be
lower in fats than the acorns of many other oak species [124].  Primary
stored energy reserves are in the form of carbohydrates [16].  Specific
nutritional values are reported below [123,124]:

crude       crude      crude     Si     Ca     P     ash    N-free
protein     fat        fiber                                extract
                              percent dry weight -

5.9         4.3        18.7     0.01   0.15    0.09   ---    ---
4.6         5.8        18.6     0.06   0.18    0.09   2.7    68.3            

Tannin levels of white oak acorns are relatively low, generally ranging
from 0.5 to 2.5 percent [126].  Lipid concentrations are also low,
averaging 5 to 10 percent [126].  However, Lewis [80] reported tannin
and lipid levels of 2.94 and 4.6 percent, respectively.  Metabolizable
energy content has been estimated at 72 percent [80].

Taproot:  The taproot of white oak is high in fibers, lignin, and
cellulose [126].
  • 114. Starker, T. J. 1932. Fire resistance of trees of northeast United States. Forest Worker. 8(3): 8-9. [81]
  • 12. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Cho, Do-Soon. 1987. Structure and composition of Goll Woods, an old-growth forest remnant in northwestern Ohio. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 114(2): 173-179. [8711]
  • 123. Vogel, Willis G. 1990. Results of planting oaks on coal surface-mined lands. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 19. Abstract. [13146]
  • 124. Vogt, Albert R.; Cox, Gene S. 1970. Evidence for the hormonal control of stump sprouting by oak. Forest Science. 16(2): 165-171. [9872]
  • 126. Wainio, Walter W.; Forbes, E. B. 1941. The chemical composition of forest fruits and nuts from Pennsylvania. Journal of Agricultural Research. 62(10): 627-635. [5401]
  • 15. 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]
  • 16. Bowersox, T. W.; Ward, W. W. 1968. Auxin inhibition of epicormic shoots in white oak. Forest Science. 14: 192-196. [9961]
  • 40. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
  • 57. Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  • 59. Knapp, Eric E.; Rice, Kevin J. 1998. Genetic structure and gene flow in Elymus glaucus (blue rye): implications for native grassland retoration. Restoration Ecology. 4(1): 1-10. [11875]
  • 78. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496]
  • 80. Martin, William H.; DeSelm, Hal R. 1976. Forest communities of dissected uplands in the Great Valley of east Tennessee. In: Fralish, James S.; Weaver, George T.; Schlesinger, Richard C., eds. Central hardwood forest conference: Proceedings of a meeting; 1976 October 17-19; Carbondale, IL. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University: 11-29. [3810]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: mast

Browse:  The young shoots of many eastern oak species are readily eaten
by deer [57].  Dried oak leaves are also occasionally eaten by
white-tailed deer in the fall or winter [120].  Rabbits often browse
twigs and can girdle stems [57].  The porcupine feeds on the bark, and
beavers eat twigs of white oaks [135].

Acorns:  Acorns of white oak are considered choice food for many
wildlife species [118], including the white-footed mouse, fox squirrel,
black bear, pine mouse, red squirrel, and cottontail rabbits
[22,27,135].  The gray squirrel consumes white oak acorns but prefers
the acorns of other oak species [80].  Many birds, including the
bluejay, northern bobwhite, mallard, ring-necked pheasant, greater
prairie chicken, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey, eat white oak acorns
[60,66,135].  In some areas, the abundance of fall mast crops, such as
acorns, can affect black bear reproductive success during the following
year [44].  Sprouted acorns are often eaten by deer, mice, and bobwhite
[135].
  • 118. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
  • 120. Van Lear, David H.; Johnson, Von J. 1983. Effects of prescribed burning in the southern Appalachian and upper Piedmont forests: a review. Forestry Bull. No. 36. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, Collage of Forest and Recreation Resources, Department of Forestry. 8 p. [11755]
  • 22. Brown, James H., Jr. 1960. The role of fire in altering the species composition of forests in Rhode Island. Ecology. 41(2): 310-316. [5935]
  • 27. Carvell, K. L.; Tryon, E. H. 1961. The effect of environmental factors on the abundance of oak regeneration beneath mature oak stands. Forestry Science. 7: 98-105. [10115]
  • 44. Garrett, H. E.; Thomas, M. W.; Pallardy, S. G. 1989. Susceptibility of sugar maple and oak to eleven foliar-applied herbicides. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 81-85. [9371]
  • 57. Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  • 60. Jones, Steven M. 1989. Application of landscape ecosystem classification in identifying productive potential of pine-hardwood stands. In: Waldrop, Thomas A., ed. Proceedings of pine-hardwood mixtures: a symposium on management and ecology of the type; 1989 April 18-19; Atlanta, GA. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-58. Asheville, SC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 64-69. [10259]
  • 66. Kotar, John; Kovach, Joseph A.; Locey, Craig T. 1988. Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Department of Forestry; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 217 p. [11510]
  • 80. Martin, William H.; DeSelm, Hal R. 1976. Forest communities of dissected uplands in the Great Valley of east Tennessee. In: Fralish, James S.; Weaver, George T.; Schlesinger, Richard C., eds. Central hardwood forest conference: Proceedings of a meeting; 1976 October 17-19; Carbondale, IL. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University: 11-29. [3810]

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Wood Products Value

More info for the term: fuel

White oak wood is heavy, hard, strong, and durable [131].  When properly
dried treated, oak wood glues well, machines very well and accepts a
variety of finishes [97].

White oak is the most important timber oak and is commercially important
throughout much of the South and East [35,141,148].  White oak is an
important source of wood for furniture, veneer, paneling, and flooring
[28,95,101].  It has been used to make railroad ties, fenceposts, mine
timbers, ships, and caskets [95].  White oak has long been used in
cooperage [125] and is currently the major source of wood for whiskey
barrels [43].  White oak wood has also been used as a source of
clapboard shingles and woven baskets, although demands for these
products are decreasing [43].  Its high fuel value makes white oak an
attractive firewood [95].
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1979. Regenerating oaks. In: Proceedings of the National siviculture workshop. Theme: The shelterwood regeneration method; 1979 September 17-21; Charleston, SC. Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Division of Timber Management: 212-22. [11670]
  • 125. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 28. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 35. DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management. 19(1): 65-70. [7343]
  • 43. Garren, Kenneth H. 1943. Effects of fire on vegetation of the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 9: 617-654. [9517]
  • 95. Reid, Vincent H.; Goodrum, Phil D. 1957. The effect of hardwood removal on wildlife. In: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 141-147. [10477]
  • 97. Rogers, Lynn. 1976. Effects of mast and berry crop failures on survival, growth, and reproductive success of black bears. Transactions, North American Wildlife Conference. 41: 431-438. [8951]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

White oak is potentially valuable for use in reforestation projects [79]
and appears to have potential for use on other types of disturbed sites.
It has been planted on strip-mined lands in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
[6,23,81] and has exhibited good growth and survival on cast overburden
and graded topsoil overlying mine spoils [6,139].  It is well adapted to
loamy and clayey spoils with a pH of 5.5 to 8.0 [81].

White oak is difficult to transplant and grows slowly [148].  It can be
readily propagated through seed which is generally planted in the fall
[99].  Seed collection, storage, and planting techniques have been
documented [16,99].
  • 16. Bowersox, T. W.; Ward, W. W. 1968. Auxin inhibition of epicormic shoots in white oak. Forest Science. 14: 192-196. [9961]
  • 23. Burns, Paul Y.; Nichols, J. Milford. 1952. Oak pruning in the Missouri Ozarks. University of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin. 581(Apr): 1-8. [10156]
  • 6. Van Sambeek, J. W.; Rink, George; Johnson, Paul S., eds. 1988. Proceedings, 3rd workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1986 February 12-13; Carbondale, IL. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-121. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 19 p. [10878]
  • 79. Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p. [4021]
  • 81. McIntyre, A. C. 1936. Sprout groups and their relation to the oak forests of Pennsylvania. Journal of Forestry. 34: 1054-1058. [10086]
  • 99. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]

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Palatability

The palatability of oak browse is relatively high for domestic livestock
and for many wildlife species [135].  Eastern oaks are preferred by
white-tailed deer in some locations [135].  New growth is particularly
palatable to deer and rabbits [57].

The acorns of most oaks are highly palatable to many species of birds
and mammals [57,90].  Palatability of white oak acorns to fox squirrels,
and presumably to some other species, declines after the acorns have
sprouted [123].
  • 123. Vogel, Willis G. 1990. Results of planting oaks on coal surface-mined lands. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 19. Abstract. [13146]
  • 57. Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  • 90. Pallardy, S. G.; Nigh, T. A.; Garrett, H. E. 1988. Changes in forest composition in central Missouri: 1968-1982. The American Midland Naturalist. 120(2): 380-390. [9043]

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Special Uses

Acorns are a valuable though inconsistent source of wildlife food.  More than 180 different kinds of birds and mammals use oak acorns  as food; among them are squirrels, blue jays, crows, red-headed  woodpeckers, deer, turkey, quail, mice, chipmunks, ducks, and  raccoons. White oak twigs and foliage are browsed by deer  especially in clearcuts less than 6 years old (3).

    White oak is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree because of  its broad round crown, dense foliage, and purplish-red to  violet-purple fall coloration. It is less favored than red oak  because it is difficult to transplant and has a slow growth rate.

  • 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)

Robert Rogers

Source: Silvics of North America

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Uses

Quercus alba, the state tree of Illinois, is one of the most important lumber trees in the United States. Prior to the use of steel, its wood was used to build United States Navy ships. It is still used for furniture, cabinets, and flooring, however, some faster growing red oak species have replaced it.

[from vPlants.org, accessed 7 January 2009]

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Weber, Jaime

Source: Oaks of the Americas

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Wikipedia

Quercus alba

For other trees called White oak, see List of Quercus species#Section Quercus. For other uses, see White Oak (disambiguation).

Quercus alba, the white oak, is one of the pre-eminent hardwoods of eastern North America. It is a long-lived oak of the family Fagaceae, native to eastern North America and found from southern Quebec west to eastern Minnesota and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. Specimens have been documented to be over 450 years old.[2]

Although called a white oak, it is very unusual to find an individual specimen with white bark; the usual color is a light gray. In the forest it can reach a magnificent height and in the open it develops into a massive broad-topped tree with large branches striking out at wide angles.[3]

Description[edit]

Bark on a large trunk.
New foliage of Quercus alba
White oak foliage
Fallen acorns from prolific tree
Hedgehog gall on white oak
Large white oak in a revolutionary war-era cemetery

Normally not a very tall tree, typically reaching 80-100 feet at maturity, it nonetheless becomes quite massive and its lower branches are apt to extend far out laterally, parallel to the ground. Trees growing in a forest will become much taller than ones in an open area which develop to be short and massive. The tallest known white oak is 144 feet (43 m) tall. It is not unusual for a white oak tree to be as wide as it is tall, but specimens growing at high altitudes may only become small shrubs. White oak may live 200–300 years, with some even older specimens known. The famous Wye Oak in Wye Mills, Maryland was estimated to be over 450 years old when it finally toppled over in a thunderstorm in 2002. Sexual maturity begins at around 20 years, but the tree does not produce large crops of acorns until its 50th year and the amount varies from year to year. Acorns deteriorate quickly after ripening, the germination rate being only 10% for six-month old seed and as they are prime food for animals and insects, in years of a small crop, all of them may be lost.[4] The bark is a light ash-gray and peels somewhat from the top, bottom and/or sides.

In spring the young leaves are of a delicate, silvery pink and covered with a soft, blanket-like down. The petioles are short, and the leaves which cluster close to the ends of the shoots are pale green and downy with the result that the entire tree has a misty, frosty look. This condition continues for several days, passing through the opalescent changes of soft pink, silvery white and finally yellow green.[3]

The leaves grow to be 5-8.5 inches long and 2.75-4.5 inches wide and have a deep glossy green upper surface. They usually turn red or brown in autumn, but depending on climate, site, and individual tree genetics, some trees are nearly always red, or even purple in autumn. Some brown, dead leaves may remain on the tree throughout winter until very early spring. The lobes can be shallow, extending less than halfway to the midrib, or deep and somewhat branching. The acorns are usually sessile, and grow to 0.5-1 inch in length, falling in early October.

Quercus alba is sometimes confused with the swamp white oak, a closely related species, and the bur oak. The white oak hybridizes freely with the bur oak, the post oak, and the chestnut oak.[3]

Autumn foliage
  • Bark: Light gray, varying to dark gray and to white; shallow fissured and scaly. Branchlets at first bright green, later reddish-green and finally light gray. A distinguishing feature of this tree is that a little over halfway up the trunk the bark tends to form overlapping scales that are easily noticed and aid in identification.
  • Wood: Light brown with paler sapwood; strong, tough, heavy, fine-grained and durable. Specific gravity, 0.7470; weight of one cubic foot, 46.35 lbs; weight of one cubic meter 770 kg.[5]
  • Winter buds: Reddish brown, obtuse, one-eighth of an inch long.
  • Leaves: Alternate, five to nine inches long, three to four inches wide. Obovate or oblong, seven to nine-lobed, usually seven-lobed with rounded lobes and rounded sinuses; lobes destitute of bristles; sinuses sometimes deep, sometimes shallow. On young trees the leaves are often repand. They come out of the bud conduplicate, are bright red above, pale below, and covered with white tomentum; the red fades quickly and they become silvery greenish white and shiny; when full grown they are thin, bright yellow green, shiny or dull above, pale, glaucous or smooth below; the midrib is stout and yellow, primary veins are conspicuous. In late autumn the leaves turn a deep red and drop, or on young trees remain on the branches throughout the winter. Petioles are short, stout, grooved, and flattened. Stipules are linear and caducous.
  • Flowers: appear in May, when leaves are one-third grown. Staminate flowers are borne in hairy aments two and a half to three inches long; the calyx is bright yellow, hairy, six to eight-lobed, with lobes shorter than the stamens; anthers are yellow. Pistillate flowers are borne on short peduncles; involucral scales are hairy, reddish; calyx lobes are acute; stigmas are bright red.
  • Acorns: Annual, sessile or stalked; nut ovoid or oblong, round at the apex, light brown, shining, three-quarters to an inch long; cup-shaped, enclose about one-fourth of the nut, tomentose on the outside, tuberculate at base, scales with short obtuse tips becoming smaller and thinner toward the rim.[3] White oak acorns (referring to Q. alba and all its close relatives) have no epigeal dormancy and germination begins readily without any treatment. In most cases, the oak root sprouts in the fall, with the leaves and stem appearing the next spring. The acorns take only one growing season to develop unlike the red oak group, which require two years for maturation.

Distribution[edit]

Quercus alba, the white oak, is fairly tolerant of a variety of habitats, and may be found on ridges, in valleys, and in between, in dry and moist habitats, and in moderately acid and alkaline soils. It is mainly a lowland tree, but reaches altitudes of 5,249 ft in the Appalachian Mountains. It is often a component of the forest canopy in an oak-heath forest.[6][7]

Uses[edit]

The tree's acorns were used for food by Native Americans.[citation needed]

Cultivation[edit]

Quercus Alba is cultivated as an ornamental tree somewhat infrequently due to its slow growth and ultimately huge size. It is not tolerant of urban pollution and road salt and due to its large taproot, is unsuited for a street tree or parking strips/islands.

Woodcraft[edit]

White oak has tyloses that give the wood a closed cellular structure, making it water- and rot-resistant. Because of this characteristic, white oak is used by coopers to make wine and whiskey barrels as the wood resists leaking. It has also been used in construction, shipbuilding, agricultural implements, and in the interior finishing of houses.[3]

It was a signature wood used in mission style oak furniture by Gustav Stickley in the Craftsman style of the Arts and Crafts movement.[citation needed]

White oak is used extensively in Japanese martial arts for some weapons, such as the bokken and jo. It is valued for its density, strength, resiliency and relatively low chance of splintering if broken by impact, relative to the substantially cheaper red oak.

USS Constitution is made of white oak and southern live oak, and reconstructive wood replacement of white oak parts comes from a special grove of Quercus alba known as the "Constitution Grove" at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division.[8]

Wildlife food[edit]

The acorns are much less bitter than the acorns of red oaks. They are small relative to most oaks, but are a valuable wildlife food, notably for turkeys, wood ducks, pheasants, grackles, jays, nuthatches, thrushes, woodpeckers, rabbits, squirrels, and deer. The white oak is the only known food plant of the Bucculatrix luteella and Bucculatrix ochrisuffusa caterpillars.

The young shoots of many eastern oak species are readily eaten by deer.[9] Dried oak leaves are also occasionally eaten by white-tailed deer in the fall or winter.[10] Rabbits often browse twigs and can girdle stems.[9]

Oak barrels[edit]

Barrels made of American white oak are commonly used for oak aging of wine, in which the wood is noted for imparting strong flavors.[11] Also, by federal regulation, bourbon whiskey must be aged in charred new oak (generally understood to mean specifically American white oak) barrels.[12]

Symbolism[edit]

White oak has served as the official state tree of Illinois after selection by a vote of school children. There are two "official" white oaks serving as state trees, one located on the grounds of the governor's mansion, and the other in a schoolyard in the town of Rochelle. The white oak is also the state tree of Connecticut and Maryland. The Wye Oak, probably the oldest living white oak until it fell because of a thunderstorm on June 6, 2002, was the honorary state tree of Maryland.

Being the subject of a legend as old as the colony itself, the Charter Oak of Hartford, Connecticut is one of the most famous white oaks in America. An image of the tree now adorns the reverse side of the Connecticut state quarter.

Chemistry[edit]

Grandinin/roburin E, castalagin/vescalagin, gallic acid, monogalloyl glucose (glucogallin) and valoneic acid dilactone, monogalloyl glucose, digalloyl glucose, trigalloyl glucose, ellagic acid rhamnose, quercitrin and ellagic acid are phenolic compounds found in Q. alba.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Quercus alba", NatureServe Explorer (NatureServe), retrieved 2007-07-06 
  2. ^ http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~adk/oldlisteast/#spp
  3. ^ a b c d e Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 328–332. ISBN 0-87338-838-0. 
  4. ^ Tirmenstein, D. A. (1991). "Quercus alba". Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  5. ^ Niche Timbers White Oak
  6. ^ The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Materials on USS Constitution". San Francisco National Maritime Park Association. Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  9. ^ a b Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16–20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  10. ^ Van Lear, David H.; Johnson, Von J. 1983. Effects of prescribed burning in the southern Appalachian and upper Piedmont forests: a review. Forestry Bull. No. 36. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, Collage of Forest and Recreation Resources, Department of Forestry. 8 p. [11755]
  11. ^ D. Sogg "White Wines, New Barrels: The taste of new oak gains favor worldwide" Wine Spectator July 31, 2001
  12. ^ "27 C.F.R. sec 5.22(l)(1)". Ecfr.gpoaccess.gov. Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  13. ^ Analysis of oak tannins by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry. Pirjo Mämmelä, Heikki Savolainenb, Lasse Lindroosa, Juhani Kangasd and Terttu Vartiainen, Journal of Chromatography A, Volume 891, Issue 1, 1 September 2000, Pages 75-83, doi:10.1016/S0021-9673(00)00624-5
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Considerable variation in depth of lobing occurs in the leaves of Quercus alba (M. J. Baranski 1975; J. W. Hardin 1975); the species is easily distinguished from others, however, by the light gray-green, glabrous mature leaves and cuneate leaf bases. 

 In the past Quercus alba was considered to be the source of the finest and most durable oak lumber in America for furniture and shipbuilding. Now it has been replaced almost entirely in commerce by various species of eastern red oak (e.g., Q . rubra , Q . velutina , and Q . falcata ) that are more common and have faster growth and greater yields. These red oaks also lack tyloses and therefore are more suited to pressure treating with preservatives, even though they are less decay-resistant without treatment.

Medicinally, Quercus alba was used by Native Americans to treat diarrhea, indigestion, chronic dysentery, mouth sores, chapped skin, asthma, milky urine, rheumatism, coughs, sore throat, consumption, bleeding piles, and muscle aches, as an antiseptic, and emetic, and a wash for chills and fevers, to bring up phlegm, as a witchcraft medicine, and as a psychological aid (D. E. Moerman 1986).

Numerous hybrids between Quercus alba and other species of white oak have been reported, and some have been named. J. W. Hardin (1975) reviewed the hybrids of Quercus alba . Nothospecies names based on putative hybrids involving Q . alba include: Q . × beadlei Trelease (= Q . alba × prinus ), Q . × bebbiana Schneider (= Q . alba × macrocarpa ), Q . × bimundorum E. J. Palmer (= Q . alba × robur ), Q . × deami Trelease (= Q . alba × muhlenbergii ), Q . × faxoni Trelease (= Q . alba × prinoides ), Q . × jackiana Schneider (= Q . alba × bicolor ), and Q . × saulei Schneider (= Q . alba × montana ).

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

More info for the term: swamp

The currently accepted scientific name of white oak is Quercus alba L.
[69]. It is a member of the order Fagales and has been placed within
the white oak subgenus (Lepidobalanus) [16]. Three varieties of white
oak are commonly recognized [148]:

Quercus alba var. alba
Quercus alba var. repanda Michx.
Quercus alba var. latiloba Sarg.

Some authorities recognize these entities as forms rather than varieties
[108,117,131].

White oak is highly variable genetically [58], and many forms and
ecotypes have been described. According to Fowells [47], "no definite
races have been defined, but within such a tremendously diverse habitat,
climatic races undoubtedly exist." White oak readily hybridizes with
many other species within the genus Quercus [58], including swamp white
oak (Q. bicolor), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), chinkapin oak (Q.
muehlenbergi), dwarf chinkapin oak (Q. prinoides), overcup oak (Q.
lyrata), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), sandpost oak (Q.
margaretta), chestnut oak (Q. prinus), English oak (Q. robur), Durand
oak (Q. durandii), and post oak (Q. stellata) [58,83]. Hybrids, their
common names, and purported origins are listed below [69,148].

Beadle oak X beadlei Trel. (Quercus alba x michauxii)
Bebb oak X bebbiana (Q. alba x Q. macrocarpa)
X bimundorum Palmer (Q. alba x Q. robur)
Deam oak X deamii (Q. alba x Q. muehlenbergi)
Faxon oak X faxonii Trel. (Q. alba x Q. prinoides)
Fernow oak X fernowii Trel. (Q. alba x Q. stellata)
Jack oak X jackiana Schneid. (Q. alba x Q. montana)
Saul oak X saulii Schneid. (Q. alba x Q. prinus)

Saul oak was formerly known as Q. alba f. ryderii but is now considered
a heterozygous hybrid form of white oak [3].

Introgressive populations are locally common throughout much of the
range of white oak. Hybrid swarms derived from complex mixtures of
parental forms are particularly common on disturbed sites, at the
margins of white oak's range, and where several oak species occur
sympatrically [58].
  • 108. Short, Henry L.; Epps, E. A., Jr. 1976. Nutrient quality and digestibility of seeds and fruits from southern forests. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(2): 283-289. [10510]
  • 117. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573]
  • 16. Bowersox, T. W.; Ward, W. W. 1968. Auxin inhibition of epicormic shoots in white oak. Forest Science. 14: 192-196. [9961]
  • 3. Allard, H. A. 1949. An analysis of seedling progeny of an individual of Quercus saulii compared with seedlings of a typical individual of the white oak... Castanea. 14: 109-117. [10795]
  • 47. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 58. Jemison, George M. 1944. The effect of basal wounding by forest fires on the diameter growth of some southern appalachian hardwoods. Bulletin 9. Durham, NC: Duke University, School of Forestry. 63 p. [8716]
  • 69. Ledig, F. Thomas; Wilson, Robert W.; Duffield, John W.; Maxwell, Gerald. 1969. A discriminant analysis of introgression between Quercus prinus L. and Quercus alba L. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 96(2): 156-163. [10665]
  • 83. Monk, Carl D.; Imm, Donald W.; Potter, Robert L.; Parker, Geoffrey G. 1989. A classification of the deciduous forest of eastern North America. Vegetatio. 80: 167-181. [9297]

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Common Names

white oak
stave oak
ridge white oak
forked-leaf white oak
fork-leaf oak

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