White Oak (Quercus alba)- Acorn
Habitat.—Light loams, sandy plains, and gravelly ridges, often constituting extensive tracts of forest. USDA Zones 3-9
Habit.—A tree of the first rank, 50-75 feet high and 1-6 feet in diameter above the swell of the roots, exhibiting considerable diversity in general appearance, trunk sometimes dissolving into branches like the American elm, and sometimes continuous to the top. The finest specimens in open land are characterized by a rather short, massive trunk, with stout, horizontal, far-reaching limbs, conspicuously gnarled and twisted in old age, forming a wide-spreading, open head of striking grandeur, the diameter at the base of which is sometimes two or three times the height of the tree.
Bark.—Trunk and larger branches light ash-gray, sometimes nearly white, broken into long, thin, loose, irregular, soft-looking flakes; in old trees with broad, flat ridges; inner bark light; branchlets ash-gray, mottled; young shoots grayish-green, roughened with minute rounded, raised dots.
Winter Buds and Leaves.—Buds ⅛ to ¼ inch long, round-ovate, reddish-brown. Leaves simple, alternate, 3-7 inches long, 2-4 inches wide, delicately reddish-tinted and pubescent upon both sides when young; at maturity glabrous, light dull or glossy green above, paler and somewhat glaucous beneath, turning to various reds in autumn; outline obovate to oval; lobes 5-9; ascending, varying greatly in different trees; when few, short and wide-based, with comparatively shallow sinuses; when more in number, ovate-oblong, with deeper sinuses, or somewhat linear-oblong, with sinuses reaching nearly to midrib; apex of lobe rounded; base of leaf tapering; leafstalks short; stipules linear, soon falling. The leaves of this species are often persistent till spring, especially in young trees.
Flowers.—Early Spring. Appearing when the leaves are half grown; sterile catkins 2-3 inches long, with slender, usually pubescent thread; calyx yellow, pubescent; lobes 5-9, pointed: pistillate flowers sessile or short-peduncled, reddish, ovate-scaled.
Fruit.—Maturing in the autumn of the first year, single, or more frequently in pairs, sessile or peduncled: cup hemispherical to deep saucer-shaped, rather thin; scales rough-knobby at base: acorn varying from ½ inch to an inch in length, oblong-ovoid: meat sweet and edible, said to be when boiled a good substitute for chestnuts.
Horticultural Value.—Grows well in all except very wet soils, in all open exposures and in light shade; like all oaks, difficult to transplant unless prepared by frequent transplanting in nurseries, from which it is not readily obtainable in quantity; grows very slowly and nearly uniformly up to maturity; comparatively free from insect enemies but occasionally disfigured by fungous disease which attacks immature leaves in spring. Propagated from seed.
White Oak (Quercus alba) – Leaves