A medium-sized tree with a straight trunk and an open, broadly rounded crown.
Leaves alternate, simple, 4–6 inches long, 1–2 inches wide, broadest above the middle, oblong-elliptical, with a shiny upper surface; tip with a single bristle. The only Missouri oak with large, "entire" (lobeless and toothless) leaves. Turn yellow or reddish-brown in autumn; dead leaves often persist on the tree through winter.
Bark smooth, brownish-gray when young; nearly black with broad ridges and shallow fissures with age.
Twigs slender, dark green to reddish-brown; gray-brown, smooth at maturity.
Flowers April–May, in catkins.
Fruits September–October; acorn solitary or in pairs; nut light to dark brown, often with pale stripes, shiny, broadest at the base and rounded at the tip, about ½ inch long; cup covering a third to half the nut, with brown, flattened, hairy scales. Seed bitter; acorns ripen in autumn of the second year.