White Oak Tree: Leaves, White Bark, Swamp (Ultimate White Oak Guide)

White Oak Tree in an oval frame on green background.

The White Oak tree is a beautiful and huge tree that grows in moist and well-drained soils in the Eastern United States.5

Even with so many tree species in the Oak tree family, the white oak is considered the king of oaks.

That is because of the durability and strength of its wood. But, did you know there are different White Oak tree species with slow to moderate growth rates?

This complete guide to the White Oak Tree explains everything you even wanted to ask abut the majestic and beautiful tree.

White Oak Tree Identification Chart

Some species of White Oak can grow up to 100ft tall. White oak leaves have rounded lobes, and the acorns mature in a single season.

Also, the male and female flowers exist on the same tree. The grey bark with small vertical blocks is one of the identifiable features of white oak trees.

The white oak lifespan is about 600 years, which is a hundred years more than a red oak tree.

Here are some additional differences:

White Oak TypeLeavesAcornsBarkGrowing Zone
European OakGreen, rounded lobesLong stalks, 2 – 2.5 cm longBlackish-gray, deep fissures5 – 8
Sessile OakShallow lobes, long stalk, undulate margin, dark-greenStalkless, green-brown, scaly wooden capGrayish-brown5 – 9
White OakDark-green to blue-green in summerOne inch long, a warty cap that covers about a quarter of the nutLight ashy gray, shallow furrows and scales3 – 9
Swamp White OakDark-green, deciduous, 3 inches to 7 inches long, with a leathery textureGrow in pairs, approximately 1 inch longBrownish turns gray-dark brown as it ages, and deep grooves4 – 8
Oregon White oak4 – 6 inches long, even and deep lobes, simple, alternate, dark-green in summerOvate & smooth, approximately 1 inch long. The lower third of the acorn has a shallow cupBrownish gray bark with shallow fissures in a checker-like pattern4 – 9
Oriental White OakObovate – oblong, glabrous above, and glabrous – densely grey-white hairy beneath the leaf5⁄8–1 inch long and ⁄2–3⁄4 in wide, a third to a half of the acorn encased in a green-grey cup and has a short peduncleFissured, gray-brown bark4 – 8
Mexican White OakSimple, alternate, 2 – 5 inches long, highly variable, with several shallow lobes towards the tip, leathery, semi-evergreen1 inch long, one-half of the acorn enclosed in the acorn cup, matures in a yearDark – light gray, with scales & flaky plates, develops shallow fissures as it ages6 – 9
Arizona White OakOblong, simple, alternate, leathery, evergreen, dull yellow to green to blue-green1/2 – 1 inch long. Oblong acorn, a bowl-shaped cap that has finely hairy scales and covers 1/3 of the nut, ripens in a single season in early fallLight gray, often thin & lenticeled, becomes thick and has shallow fissures & scaly ridges3 – 8
Valley OakDeeply lobed,2 – 4 inches, matte green, pale green underneathMedium – dark brown, ranging from 2 – 3 cm longPewter-colored and rippled5 – 9

How To Identify a White Oak Tree

White oak trees have distinct, identifiable features ranging from the leaves to the seeds. The unique features of the tree make it quite useful to human beings and animals.

Compared to other oak tree types, white oak trees seem to live the longest.

However, the oak tree has a slow to medium growth rate. They grow between one and two feet every year.

These trees grow in the USDA zone 3 – 9.6 The male flowers grow in clusters and the female ones are small red spiked catkins.

The leaves of white oak trees turn red to deep burgundy in the fall and could remain on the tree throughout winter. Another identifying feature of white oak tree species is the acorns.

They are green when young and brown in maturity. They are different sizes in different species, but they all have a cap on top of the seed.

There are many ways to plant white oak trees, including sowing the acorns in moist, well-drained soil. These trees have a deep root system and can therefore tolerate drought but only when the tree is well established in its habitat.

This ultimate white oak guide will help you understand other unique features of the tree below.

White Oak Tree Leaves (White Oak Leaf Structure)

White oak leaves are alternate and simple. They have 7 – 9 lobes and are 5 – 9 inches long.

The leaves also have short petioles. You can identify the leaves through the rounded lobes that do not have bristle tips.

When it comes to the size of the leaf, it differs from leaf to leaf but is uniform on each leaf.1

White oak leaf identification chart showing the differences in shapes and hues of white oak leaves.

The top of the leaf will have a dull-green color, but the bottom will be a bit paler. The leaf color slightly changes to blue-green in summer, while the fall has brown, wine-red, and orange-red colors.

The showy fall foliage makes the trees stand out in any landscape they are planted. The whitish underside of the leaves is what gives the trees their name.

White Oak Wood

White oak trees grow up to 100 feet tall, and their branches extend far and wide to create a massive canopy. The bark is grayish in color and has scales all over it.

White oak trees also grow pretty thick, making the trees suitable for woodcraft.

The trees have tyloses, giving the wood a closed cellular structure. That helps the tree resist rot and water.

White oak wood is, therefore, excellent for whiskey and wine barrels. The wood is also used for shipbuilding, construction, interior finishes, and agricultural implements.

White oak has also been used to make weapons in Japanese martial arts and distinct furniture from quarter-sawn white oak wood. Other white oak wood applications are as making musical instruments and food for rabbits and deer when the shoots are young.

White Oak Tree Seeds

The seeds of white oak trees are called acorns. They are either annual, stalked, or sessile. The nut is ovoid or oblong with a round apex.

These seeds are light brown in color and have a shiny surface.

They are about 3⁄4–1 inch in length, and the cap is cup-shaped. It encases about one-fourth of the nut and is tomentose on the outside.

White oak seed identification chart showing the differences in shapes and colors of white oak seeds.

These acorns are tuberculate at the bottom and have scales with short, obtuse tips.

The tips become smaller & thinner as you move toward the rim. White Oak acorns do not have epigeal dormancy and can begin germination without any treatment.

Usually, the oak root sprouts in the fall, while the leaves & stem appear in the next spring.

The acorns grow in a single season, differentiating them from the red oak acorns, which take two years to mature. If you buy white oak acorns for planting oak trees, you must be careful about the soil type because white oaks are sensitive to soil composition.

The white acorns are available for sale in most online seedling shops or any local seed shop. However, the white oak acorns for sale will differ in price and quality.

Do your research before settling for any shop online or offline.

Oak Tree With White Bark

White oak trees have a grayish bark with scales. The bark becomes deeply furrowed with age but maintains its gray color.

For species like the Eastern white oak, the bark is a grayish-white color with narrow fissures that is a bit thin.

You will also notice overlapping scales on the tree trunk until about half the trunk. While most white oak trees have a gray and not white bark, the end product of its wood is considered white, hence the tree’s name.

The wood from white oak trees is white in color and description.

You can find such a white oak tree for sale at any shop that sells oakwood. All you need to ask for is the white wood from oak trees, and you will get it.

The durability and strength of white oak trees make them suitable for furniture and other wooden items like weapons and instruments.

White Oak Tree Growing Requirements

The best growing conditions for white oak trees are areas with full sun and away from drainages and other such systems. The best soil for the trees is moist and well-drained, although the tree can tolerate a variety of soil textures.2,7

The trees are quite sensitive while young but become more tolerant as they age. Therefore, a grown tree is more likely to tolerate partial shade compared to a younger one.

Also, the deep root system makes it hard to transplant the tree, but you can do it when it is still young.

A little acidity in the soil is good for the trees, and new transplants require a lot of water to thrive. You can plant white oak trees on your land but far from essential systems due to the deep root system that could sometimes be invasive.

White Oak Tree Growth Rate

The white oak tree size differs from tree to tree and from species to species. Some of the species will grow as tall as 100 ft, while others grow like shrubs.

The place you plant the tree determines how tall the tree will grow.

White Oak Tree growth chart showing full grown White Oak tree on a line graph with White Oak tree age on the x-axis and White Oak tree height on the y-axis.

White oak trees in a forest grow taller than those in open landscapes. The white oak tree is a slow-growing tree but has one of the longest lifespans.

In some of the smaller species, the white oak tree height is usually 50-80 feet in maturity.

Due to the moderate growth rate of the white oak trees, you can expect a growth of about 12 to 24 inches yearly. That is different from the red oak tree, which grows pretty fast but does not live as long as the white oak.

Examples of White Oak Tree Species

There are different white oak species with almost similar but different features. The table above has most of the popular white oak tree species and their distinctive features.

Below are two of the most common white oak trees and their detailed features.

Mexican White Oak Tree

The Mexican white oak is also known as the Net Leaf white oak or Monterrey oak.8 The tree is planted as an ornamental tree in most of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and parts of Val Verde County in Texas.

The tree is medium-sized and grows up to a height of about 40 ft. Its trunk is about 2 ft in diameter and has a rounded broad crown.

The showy fall leaves and the small size make the tree suitable for landscapes across Texas.

Both the male and female flowers are on the same tree, and they bloom in Spring. The female catkins are less conspicuous, but the males grow about 4 inches long.

The Mexican white oak tree has simple, alternate leaves that grow up to a length of about two to five inches.

As mentioned earlier. Mexican white oaks are great landscape trees. You can find it in most commercial nurseries across the US.

The acorns are one inch long and mature in one year.

Swamp White Oak Tree

As the name suggests, this tree grows in low-lying swampy areas. However, the tree could grow in urban and suburban areas and compacted soil.

It is a good shade tree and can grow along the street for as many as 300 years.3

It grows at a moderate pace and to about 60 feet high in maturity. That means that the tree grows between 13 and 24 inches every year.

For the best growing conditions, ensure that the tree gets about 6 hours of direct and unfiltered sunlight.

Mature Swamp White Oak with budding green leaves in an urban park setting.

(Image: mefisher12)

Even though the swamp white oak prefers acidic, moist, and well-drained soils, it is also drought tolerant. The leaves are yellow, red-purple, and bronze in the fall.

For the rest of the seasons, the leaves remain dark green with a leathery texture and a length of about 3 – 7 inches.

The acorns are oblong-shaped and appear in pairs. The tree grows in a round shape and is prone to chlorosis when the acidity in the soil is not enough.

The swamp white oak grows in hardiness zone 4 – 8.

White Oak Tree Facts

White oak trees are beautiful and come in various species. It is a good plant to have on your land as it improves your yard’s curb appeal.

If you have been looking for white oak trees for sale to plant in your backyard, here are a few facts to help you make the right choice.

White Oak Trees Can Grow Really Tall

The tallest white oak tree to ever exist was 145 feet. That is equivalent to 12 African Elephants stacked together.

Most white oak trees grow between 80 – 100 feet tall in maturity, but there are also smaller species that only grow up to 40 feet.

White Oak Trees Have Pretty Long Lifespan

The tallest white oak tree lived for a whopping 582 years. That was the Mingo Oak.

The average lifespan for white oak trees is about 300 years, but the trees could live up to a maximum of 600 years. White oak tree lifespan is second to the Southern live oak tree, which can live up to 1000 years.4

The White Oak Tree Is Monoecious

White oak trees have both female and male flowers on the same tree. However, that does not mean that the female flowers are always pollinated by the male flowers from the same plant.

The trees are wind-pollinated and therefore,9 the pollen can come from a different tree.

The Fruits of a White Oak Tree Are Called Acorns

Although all oak trees produce acorns, they differ from tree to tree. They are usually round-shaped with a cap-like covering at the top.

The acorns are green when young and eventually turn brown as they mature.

They contain the seeds that are used to grow another white oak tree. However, it takes about 20 years for white oak tree acorns to appear.

Once acorn production has begun, the acorns will take about a year to mature. Afterward, the tree will produce about 12,000 acorns n a month and 1 000 000 in its lifetime.

A single brown acorn with a textured cap rests in the palm of a hand.

(Image: elacroix-carignan11)

It takes a single acorn to grow a white oak tree, meaning that the acorns that fall to the ground can easily grow into other oak trees in the right conditions. Also, acorns are sweet and edible, but you should never eat the seeds inside.

They are a good source of food for wildlife, and some people use them as an ingredient in baked goods. That is contrary to the red oak acorn production, which is not sweet and, therefore, bitter to taste.

The White Oak Tree Provides Deciduous Hardwood

Now that white oak trees grow tall and straight, they make very good hardwood. The wood is also highly durable, strong, and hard.

White oak trees produce white hardwood, a light beige color in some trees, hence the name.

It is therefore used in high-end furniture and floors but can also be stained with darker colors to customize the finish. White oak wood is also non-porous, which makes it the best material for whiskey and wine barrels.

It produces a good oaky flavor that contributes to the distinctive flavor of aged wine or whiskey. The tylose component in the white oak wood also makes the wood waterproof and, therefore, excellent for shipbuilding and the making of barrels.

The White Oak Tree Is Symbolic

White oak trees are durable, strong, resilient, and have a long lifespan.

The tree is therefore used to symbolize 80 years of marriage. That is because it shares qualities like permanence, stability, strength, longevity, and resilience with the tree.

The tree is also used as a medal of honor in the military.

How Many Leaves Are on a Tree Branch of the White Oak?

For every 25 feet, the white oak trees have about 30,000 leaves. You can approximate the number of leaves on your white oak tree by measuring the width of the oak right under the crown.

You can identify different types of oak trees by leaf using the oak tree leaf identification chart provided in this ultimate white oak guide.

Where Do White Oak Trees Grow?

White oak trees grow in moist, acidic, and well-drained soils. They also prefer full sun, although they can tolerate a little shade and drought with time.

Most types of oak trees will not be ideal on roadsides because of the deep root systems. Some of the species, like the swamp white oak, do well along river banks.

White Oak vs Red Oak Tree

The white oak tree and the Red oak have many similarities but also have distinct features. One of the differentiating features of the two trees is the growth rate.

White oak trees tend to grow much slower than red ones.

The white oak trees are also stronger than red oaks. Regarding the leaf shape, red oaks have pointed tips, while white ones have rounded tips.

The other main difference between the two oak tree species is the color.

You would expect that red oak has a red color and white oak has a lighter one, but that is not the case. In fact, the white oak trees are a bit darker than the red ones.

White oaks have more browns and yellows in their color patterns, while red oaks have pink undertones.

Another difference is in the resistance of the two hardwoods. One is porous, while the other one is non-porous.

White oak wood has a closed-grain pattern,10 while red oak has an open one. That means the red oak wood absorbs water easily and is, therefore, prone to rot.

That is not the case for white oak hardwood, which is water and rot-resistant. The prices for each are also slightly different based on the supply and demand factors.

White oak trees are rare to find and, therefore, more expensive. However, you can always find both trees in nurseries, with the live oak tree for sale and other similar trees.

White Oak Uses

White oak trees have many uses, including furniture making. You can grow the tree as a shade tree in your backyard or grow it for its hardwood.

Different types of oak trees in Texas and other parts of the world have different uses based on the tree species’ features.

However, the non-porous feature of most white oak trees makes them perfect for shipbuilding and barrel making. The wood is also strong and durable, making it perfect for drumsticks and weapons used in Japanese martial arts.

Other uses include musical instrument making as a source of food for wildlife and cooking ingredients for humans. As a shade tree, it is important to pick the right types of oak trees in Florida and other states.

That is because some white oak tree species have deep roots that could interfere with your drainage. Overall, the white oak tree is quite useful to the ecosystem and makes high-quality items like furniture and floors.

White oak trees are strong, beautiful trees that can do well in various soil textures and have multiple uses. You can grow the tree through its seed or transplant it when the tree is still young.

Where Can I Find a 10-Year-Old Oak Tree for Sale?

Most commercial nurseries in the US have various white oak species seedlings that you can buy and plant in your home or garden.

Most commercial nurseries will have different types of oak trees in California and other states. If you want a different size, you can talk to the attendants to help pick the age and size you want.

However, very old trees are not easy to transplant. The best way to grow a white oak tree is through acorn tree seeds.

The white oak growth rate diameter depends on the type of white oak, but most white oak trees can grow as thick as they are tall. Plant a white oak tree today and improve your home’s curb appeal as you contribute to environmental conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions About White Oak Tree

Where Can I Buy White Oak Tree Seedlings for Sale?

You can buy white oak tree seedlings in nurseries all over the US. You do not have to go to a physical shop to find out whether they have the tree you want as most nurseries operate online, too, making it easy for anyone to buy a seedling from anywhere.

What Does a White Oak Tree Look Like?

A big white oak tree has multiple branches and a round, broad crown and leaves with rounded tips and acorns that appear after 20 years. White oak tree leaves have a whitish undersurface, which is why they have the name white oaks.

When Do White Oak Acorns Fall?

Most oak acorns start falling in mid-September, going all the way to November, depending on the location. In unusually dry Summers, the acorns could start dropping 2 weeks earlier than expected.

When Does a White Oak Tree Have No Leaves on Tree?

White oak trees are deciduous, meaning that at one point, the trees shed off their leaves. That usually happens during winter, depending on the tree species and the location of the tree.


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