Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

BLACK OAK
Quercus velutina
Fagaceae

Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, leathery, and variable in shape with 5-7 bristle-tipped lobes and often with hair underneath. Sun leaves are usually more deeply lobed and may look like scarlet oak. Bark is gray-black, darker and blocky at the base, and may show white tracks on the upper stem on larger trees. Inner bark is yellow-orange whereas the inner bark of similar species, northern red oak and scarlet oak, is dull orange-brown. Buds are angled, light-brown and wooly. Fruit is an acorn 3/4 inches long with a hairy bowl-shaped cap covering half the nut. The acorn matures in two seasons. Form is up to 30 m (100 ft) in height and 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter. Black oak is found on a variety of sites in the east and central U.S. Intermediate shade tolerance. The wood is commercially important and used for flooring and cabinets. Acorns eaten by game birds, deer, bear and many small mammals.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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