Carolinian
and Deciduous Forest Trees

of Southern Ontario

White Oak
Quercus Alba

Location in Ontario:
White Oak grows throughout the Deciduous Forest Region and along part of the St. Lawrence.


White Oak in fall, Norfolk County

Genus Quercus: The ten Oaks of Southern Ontario are divided into two categories. Red Oaks have lobed leaves which are pointed (Black, Hill's, Pin, Red, Shumard). White Oaks have leaves with rounded lobes (Bur, White, Swamp White), or simple leaves with sharp teeth (Chinquapin and Dwarf Chinquapin). 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. Oak seeds are acorns; a one-seeded nut with a tough shell and a scaly cup which attaches to the tree. Oaks are monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. Oak wood is  favoured for flooring and furniture.

TREE FACT: There's an old saying in reference to the order of leaves coming out in the spring and giving a prediction of the upcoming summer weather:
Ash before Oak, you get a soak,
Oak before Ash, you get a splash.


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


Oak Savanna, Turkey Point Provincial Park

Habitat: White Oak grows in a variety of habitats.

Landscape Use:
White Oaks are beautiful, but slow growing, 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. 

Leaves: White Oaks have leaves with 7 to 9 rounded lobes Often, Oak leaves stay on the tree over winter. Oak leaves on the ground are slow to decay. This is a survival strategy to prevent the growth of other plants nearby.

FALL COLOUR WATCH: red.

Flowers: Oaks are monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. Flowers are small. Pollen flowers are in catkins, while seed flowers occur in small clusters.

Fruit: Oak seeds are acorns; a one-seeded nut with a tough shell. On top of the acorn is a scaly cup which attaches to the tree. Good acorn crops are produced every 4 to 10 years, after 20 years of growth.

Bark: The bark is pale whitish-gray. Older trees may appear shaggy.

Size: This large, slow growing tree grows to 35 metres.

Wood: 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


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

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