White Oak
Quercus alba

Location in Ontario
White Oak grows throughout the Deciduous Forest Region and along part of the St. Lawrence. It grows well in a variety of habitats.


Magnificent White Oak, Long Point. The White Oaks of Norfolk County are known for their shaggy bark.

 

Genus Quercus
The ten Oaks of Southern Ontario are divided into two categories. Red Oaks have lobed leaves which are pointed and acorns (seeds) that develop over two years. White Oaks have leaves with rounded lobes or simple leaves with sharp teeth and acorns (seeds) that develop over one year. Acorns are a one-seeded nut with a tough shell, and a scaly cap which attaches to the tree. Often, Oak leaves stay on the tree over winter. Oak leaves on the ground are slow to decay, as this is a survival strategy to prevent the growth of other plants nearby. Oaks are monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. Oak is a favoured wood for flooring and furniture.


8 Oaks of University of Guelph Arboretum L to R: Shumard, Hill's, Bur, Chinquapin, Dwarf Chinquapin, Red, Swamp White, White. Missing: Black Oak and Pin Oak

In the Landscape
White Oak is a large, slow growing tree up to 35 metres. It can reach ages of up to 600 years old! White Oaks are beautiful trees with good fall colours. A lot of space is needed for wide spreading branches. Oak leaves do not decay readily and persist under the tree along with acorns. 


Magnificent White Oak coming out in leaf, Norfolk County

Leaves
White Oaks have leaves with 7 to 9 rounded lobes. Leaves turn dark red in the fall.
Bark
The bark is pale whitish-gray. Older trees may appear shaggy.
Flowers
White Oak is monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. Flowers are in the form of catkins. Flowers appear with the leaves and are wind pollinated.
Fruit
Good acorn crops are produced every 4 to 10 years, after 20 years of growth. Acorns mature on the tree for one growing season.

Wood
White Oak wood is hard and heavy with a beautiful grain. It is used for furniture and flooring.
Specific gravity: 0.68
Janka Hardness: 1360 lb
Wood Comparison Chart



Cross-section of a fallen White Oak (from Simcoe), St. Williams Forestry Station Museum, Norfolk County


White Oak in fall, Norfolk County

Link to United States Forest Service Silvics Manual for White Oak.

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