4735 Normandy Lane

Water Oak (Quercus nigra)

Quercus nigra, the water oak, is an oak in the red oak group, native to the eastern and south-central United States, found in all the coastal states from New Jersey to Texas, and inland as far as Oklahoma, Kentucky, and southern Missouri. The water oak is adapted to wet, swampy areas, such as along ponds and stream banks, but can also tolerate other well-drained sites and even heavy, compacted soils. It is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree, growing to 100 feet tall with a trunk up to 3 feet in diameter. Young trees have a smooth, brown bark that becomes gray-black with rough scaly ridges as the tree matures. The leaves are alternate, simple and tardily deciduous, remaining on the tree until mid-winter. The water oak is easy to identify by its leaves, which have a lobe that looks as if a drop of water is hanging from the end of the leaf. The acorns are arranged singly or in pairs, one-third to one-half inch long and wide, with a shallow cap; they are at the top of the food preference list for deer, squirrels, raccoons, wild turkeys, mallards, wood ducks and quail. The water oak has been used as a source of timber and fuel by people in the southern states since the 1600s. Many homes were built with and heated by giant water oaks that sprouted hundreds of years before Columbus.       

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *