Swamp White Oak
Quercus bicolor | Family: Fagaceae
Submission: Drew Perlmutter ‘18
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.
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.
Brockman, C.F. 1986. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Revised Edition. Western Pub. Co., Inc. 280pp.
Elias, T.S. 1980. The Complete Trees of North America Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., N.Y. 948pp.
Harlow, W.M., Harrar, E.S., Hardin, J.W. and White, F.M. 1991. Textbook of Dendrology. McGraw-Hill Inc., N.Y. 501pp.
Index of Species Information Quercus bicolor. [accessed Nov. 1, 2015]. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/quebic/all.html
Petrides, G.A. 1972, A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs. 2nd edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 428pp.
Preston, R.J., Jr. 1989. North American Trees. 4th edition. Iowa State Univ. Press. Ames. 407pp.
Maine Natural Areas Program Rare Plant Fact Sheet Quercus bicolor. c 2013 Maine.gov [accessed Nov. 1, 2015] http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mnap/features/quebic.htm
Shane, J. 2004. Dendrology Handbook, University of Vermont, Unpublished.
USDA Plant Guide: Swamp White Oak. USDA [accessed Nov. 1, 2015] http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_qubi.pdf