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Oak (White)

Quercus alba

Branches of White Oak tree

A truly grand tree! Noble, majestic, and durable both in appearance and in actual performance, I find this tree inspirational in all seasons. White Oak, or Quercus alba, is never gaudy or flashy but is always solidly attractive. The structure, foliage, and bark color (all of its attributes in fact) come together to cause one to reflect on the majesty of God's handiwork. It easily ranks as one of America's greatest native trees.

Leaves are round-lobed, typical of trees in the White Oak group. Leaves open in the spring with pinkish hues that change to a soft, light green and finally mature into a rich, medium-dark green. Fall color is usually russet-red or burgundy. Young trees sometimes retain their foliage into the winter, but older trees almost always have clean leaf-drop in the fall. The bark is broken into small vertically-arranged blocks or longer, scaly strips. The bark color is a light ashy-grey that blends beautifully with the foliage at all stages of development. And after the growing season is ended, the bark continues its appeal during the dormant season, blending its colors and textures with the solid structure and curves of the branches against the winter sky. White Oak is truly a four-season performer.

White Oak is also a patient tree. It takes an investment of time for White Oak to become the stately and noble tree we have just described. Today’s buying public too often has a short-sighted demand for instant gratification, but a mature White Oak is well worth the wait.

White Oak, however, does not tolerate change well. A new patio or driveway, an excavation to fix a water line, or simply soil compaction from people or equipment can wreak havoc on the root systems of many of our landscape trees, and White Oak is especially sensitive to these things. A small construction project can be the beginning of the end for an otherwise healthy Quercus alba tree.

As with any other endeavor, successful White Oak culture simply means working within the limitations. Success in placing this fantastic tree in your landscape can be accomplished with a few common-sense guidelines, as follows:
1. Be sure you have a suitable soil environment. While not overly hard to please, White Oak will not tolerate extremely poor soils. Do not attempt to place this tree in poorly drained or severely compacted traffic areas as described above. If growing conditions are marginal, you may want to substitute a Burr Oak or Swamp Chestnut Oak instead.
2. Be certain the area has enough room for White Oak to reach its mature size of 50'-80' with an equal spread.
3. Think ahead. White Oak should be planted where it can grow undisturbed for centuries. Place the tree in a location not likely to be disturbed by any future construction or excavation.
4. Purchase trees that have been propagated and grown in root-pruning containers. Trees grown by conventional methods are off to a very slow start at best. Root-pruning containers are designed to create a fibrous root system, and if properly installed and cared for, a root-pruned tree will establish itself very quickly with little to no transplant shock.

Table of tree prices
Tree Container SizeStem CaliperPlant HeightPrice
#904.5-5"14-16'sold out
#1124.5-5"14-18'sold out