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Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Quercus alba

Common Name: 
white oak

Quercus alba, White Oak

The white oak is a large, strong tree. It has a short stocky trunk with massive horizontal limbs.The fall foliage is often quite beautiful and showy.  

Sunlight Preference: Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

It can adapt to a variety of soil textures, but prefers deep, moist, well-drained sites. High pH soil will cause chlorosis. White oak is less susceptible to oak wilt than the red oak species.

New transplants should receive plenty of water and mulch beneath the canopy to eliminate grass competition

Wildlife Value:

The acorns are one of the best sources of food for wildlife and are gathered, hoarded and eaten by birds, hoofed browsers and rodents.

Oaks, in general, are the best pollinator plants there are! In Ohio, Oaks support over 477 different species of butterflies and moths – more than any other plant!


Acorns are produced generally when the trees are between 50-100 years old. Open-grown trees may produce acorns are early as 20 years. Good acorn crops are irregular and occur only every 4-10 years.

Other Features:

  • Can live for centuries.
  • Features alternating leaves that are 4–8" long with 3–4 rounded, finger-like lobes on each side and one at the tip. Intervening sinuses sometimes reach almost to the mid-rib.
  • Produces long, yellowish-green catkins drooping in clusters in the spring.
  • Develops a deep taproot, making it difficult to transplant.
  • Is extremely sensitive to soil compaction and grade changes.
  • This information has been adapted from Arbor Day Foundation. Please find more information here
Plant Image: