Shumard Oak

Illustration of Shumard oak leaf.
Scientific Name
Quercus shumardii
Fagaceae (oaks)

Shumard oak is a medium to large-sized tree with a tall, straight trunk, stout branches and a large, open crown.

Leaves are alternate, simple, 6–8 inches long; with 5–9 lobes with 2–6 bristle-tipped teeth, lobes wider at their tip than at their base, notches between lobes rounded, over halfway to central vein. Upper surface dark green, shiny, smooth; lower surface paler, smooth, with tufts of hairs in the vein axils. Leaves turn red in autumn and are usually the first of the oaks to turn color.

Bark is dark gray to reddish-brown, smooth when young, breaking into thick, flat, scaly ridges with shallow grooves with age.

Twigs are moderately stout, reddish- or grayish brown, smooth, shiny.

Flowers April–May, in catkins.

Fruits September–October, acorn solitary or paired, reddish-brown, egg-shaped to 2–4 times longer than broad, rounded or flattened at the base, ½–1 inch long; cup covering a quarter to a third of the nut, shallow, thick; acorns ripening in autumn of the second year.

Other Common Names
Shumard's Oak
Height: to 100 feet.
Where To Find
image of Shumard Oak distribution map
Nearly statewide; primarily in the southern three-quarters of the state.
One of the largest of the southern red oaks. Occurs in dry, rocky upland woods and borders of glades; also in valleys and along banks of larger Ozark streams, drainages, and river bottoms. A moderately fast-growing, long-lived tree but not much used as an ornamental. It would make a good alternative to northern red oak because it tolerates wetter and drier sites while having otherwise similar features.
The wood is commercially valuable for cabinets, furniture, flooring, trim, lumber, and fuel. Because of its large size and noble bearing, Shumard oak also makes a handsome shade tree. The name of this tree honors the memory of Benjamin Franklin Shumard (1820–1869), a medical doctor who was the state geologist of Texas; he also worked in Missouri as the president of the St. Louis Academy of Science and at the University of Missouri as professor of obstetrics. He is buried in St. Louis's Bellefontaine Cemetery; his field notebooks of Missouri geology are in MU library's special collections.
The acorns provide food for wildlife, including birds and mammals; the tree (living and dead) provides nesting space, cover, and den sites for a variety of animals. Even the shade created by trees such as this is a valuable commodity for organisms that cannot bear full sun.
Media Gallery
Similar Species
About Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines in Missouri
There are no sharp dividing lines between trees, shrubs, and woody vines, or even between woody and nonwoody plants. “Wood” is a type of tissue made of cellulose and lignin that many plants develop as they mature — whether they are “woody” or not. Trees are woody plants over 13 feet tall with a single trunk. Shrubs are less than 13 feet tall, with multiple stems. Vines require support or else sprawl over the ground.