Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

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

Water Oak (Red Oak)
Quercus nigra

Leaves are simple, alternate, tardily deciduous, usually spatulate, and with a bristle-tip at the apex. They are often irregularly lobed or pronged on seedlings and saplings. Terminal buds are red-brown to gray, angled and smooth. Bark is gray-black and smooth but becoming shallowly grooved with age. Fruit is an acorn less than 1/2 inches long with a cap sitting on the base of the flat-topped nut. The acorn matures in two seasons. Form is up to 36 m (120 ft) in height, possibly with mistletoe in the canopy. Water oak is found on dry and wet sites in the southern U.S. and is intolerant of shade. The wood is used as red oak lumber. Acorns eaten by game birds, deer, and many small mammals.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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