Swamp White Oak

Quercus bicolor | Family: Fagaceae

Submission: Drew Perlmutter ‘18

Swamp White OakIdentification:

Leaves – deciduous, obvate, shallowly lobed or coarsely dentate with glandular teeth and sharp color contrast; dark green top with underside bright white and slightly pubescent.

Buds – 1/8″ long and glabrous.

Fruit – 1-1/4″ long and stalked with a slightly fringed cup.

Bark – peely on upper limbs with blocky or scaly ridges.


Natural History:

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) can occasionally be found on forested wetlands and ranges from New England to the Mid-West. It is considered a threatened tree in Maine due to its range being predominantly in more southern states; consequently the trees are being protected from being cleared for agriculture. Its name “bicolor” derives from the bright white and slightly pubescent underside of the leaves, which contrast with the shiny dark green top of the leaf. In the fall the color of the leaves turn a vivid yellow and, occasionally, a brownish purple.

Swamp White Oak is often used as an ornamental. In the wild, it is a sturdy hardwood that makes up about one third of America’s sawtimber production; uses include boards, boats, boxes, barrels, and furniture. As a member of the white oak group, swamp white oak has less tannins, making the acorns sweeter and more palatable for wildlife. These acorns are a valuable source of nutrients for many animals including squirrels, birds, white-tailed deer, bears, and beavers.



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Index of Species Information Quercus bicolor. [accessed Nov. 1, 2015]. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/quebic/all.html

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USDA Plant Guide: Swamp White Oak. USDA [accessed Nov. 1, 2015] http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_qubi.pdf