White Oak

Quercus alba
Fagaceae (oaks)

A large tree with a long, straight trunk and a broad, rounded crown.

Leaves alternate, simple, 5–9 inches long, 2–4 inches wide; margin entire, with 6–10 lobes; lobes rounded at the tip; upper surface bright green, smooth, often shiny; lower surface whitened, smooth (without hairs).

Bark light gray, with shallow grooves and flat, loose ridges; large limbs and branches scaly.

Twigs slender to stout, green to reddish-green, and hairy when young, turning red-brown to ash gray and smooth with age.

Flowering is in April–May. Male and female flowers are on the same tree; male flowers in drooping catkins, female flowers small and in leaf axils.

Fruits September–October, acorn solitary or in pairs; nut light brown, shiny, widest near the base or middle, tapering to a round tip ¾-1 inch long; cup covering up to ¼ of the nut, bowl-shaped to saucer-shaped, light brown; scales numerous, surface warty or corky, flattened, knobby. Acorns ripen in autumn of the first year.

Height: to 120 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs on dry upland slopes and ridges; also on low ground of valleys and ravine bottoms. One of the most attractive, long-lived (over 300 years) shade trees in Missouri. One of the state’s most ubiquitous trees, found in a wide variety of forest, woodland and savanna natural communities throughout the state.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Human connections: 
The wood is second only to walnut in unit value. Once used extensively in ship construction; now used for interior finishing, veneer, cabinets, general construction, whiskey and wine barrels, and more. Native Americans made a bread using the ground acorns. The bark was used medicinally.
Ecosystem connections: 
The acorns are an important food for blue jays, woodpeckers, wood ducks, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, northern bobwhites, mice, squirrels, raccoons and deer. Large, strong trees provide nesting space for many birds and mammals, and a sturdy structure for vines and other smaller plants to climb on.
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