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Quercus velutina (Black Oak)

Black Oak, Quercitron Oak, Yellow Oak, Smoothbark Oak, Yellowbark Oak, Quercus tinctoria

Quercus velutina, Black Oak, Quercitron Oak, Yellow Oak, Smoothbark Oak, Yellowbark Oak, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree
Quercus velutina, Black Oak, Quercitron Oak, Yellow Oak, Smoothbark Oak, Yellowbark Oak, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree

The Black Oak tree is known for its rugged appearance and sturdy nature. It has a broad, rounded canopy and a strong, thick trunk. It belongs to the red oak group.

Quercus velutina: An In-depth Look

Native: This oak species is native to eastern and central North America. It can live for several centuries, with some specimens reaching over 200 years old. This longevity contributes to their role as keystone species in their ecosystems.

Plant Type and Habit: It is a large, deciduous tree typically found in forests. The Black Oak grows upright and has a rounded habit.

Size: Mature Black Oak trees typically grow 50-60 feet (15-18 m) tall and wide.

Flowers: The tree produces inconspicuous flowers in spring before or as the leaves emerge. The flowers are yellowish-green, with male flowers in drooping catkins and female flowers in shorter spikes.

Fruits: The Black Oak produces solitary or paired elliptic acorns adorned with fringed cups that cover almost half of the nut, distinguishing them from other oak species.

Foliage: The foliage of the Black Oak tree is equally striking. The leaves are alternately arranged, 10 inches long (25 cm), with 7-9 deeply incised lobes. They exhibit a rich dark green color on the upper surface and a paler, downy underside. This contrasting coloration adds to the visual appeal of the tree. The leaves turn to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, or brown in the fall, providing a striking fall color display in forests and landscapes.

Bark: The bark is dark, nearly black, and deeply furrowed on mature specimens, giving a rugged appearance. The tannin-rich, almost black outer bark hides yellow to orange inner bark, producing bright yellow dye.

Hardiness: This oak tree is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8.

Uses: Black Oak is primarily valued for its durable, strong timber, widely used in furniture making, flooring, and cabinetry. Black Oak is not extensively planted as an ornamental, but its fall color contributes greatly to the esthetic value of oak forests. It also makes an excellent shade or lawn tree for large areas. Native Americans historically used the bark of the Black Oak to make a yellow dye. The tannins in the bark were also used for medicinal purposes.

Wildlife: Oak trees support over 800 caterpillar species in the United States. They are host plants for over 500 species of butterflies, including the Striped Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, Edwards Hairstreak, Red Banded Hairstreak, White M Hairstreak, Mourning Cloak, and Horace’s Duskywing. Birds and mammals, including deer and squirrels, voles, and turkeys, consume the acorns.

Deer and Rabbits: While young trees may be susceptible to browsing by deer and rabbits, mature Willow Oaks are less prone to damage. Using protective measures like tree guards can help safeguard saplings from these animals.

Drought Tolerance: Black Oak exhibits moderate drought tolerance. Once established, it can withstand dry conditions but benefits from occasional watering during extended periods of drought.

Toxicity: The leaves and acorns contain tannic acid, which can be toxic to horses and some pets if ingested in large quantities.

Invasiveness: This species is not considered invasive in its native range.

How to Grow and Care for a Black Oak Tree

Light: Thrives in full sun. Prefers at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Soil: Adaptable to various soil types but prefers fertile, slightly acidic, well-drained soils. Black Oak grows on poor, dry, sandy, and heavy clay soils in the wild.

Water: Regular watering is essential during the first few years. Mature trees are drought-tolerant but benefit from occasional deep watering during extended dry periods.

Fertilizer: Generally does not require fertilization. If needed, use a balanced, slow-release tree fertilizer.

Pruning: Prune young trees to establish a strong structure. Remove dead or crossing branches. Best done in late winter to early spring.

Propagation: Propagate by seed or grafting in mid-autumn or late winter. It is difficult to transplant because of its because of its deep taproot. Grow your own oak tree: a step-by-step guide to planting acorns.

Pests and Diseases: No serious insect or disease issues. Black oak can be occasionally attacked by oak wilt, chestnut blight, root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, canker, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include gypsy moth, scale insects, leafminers, galls, lace bugs, borers, and caterpillars. It is susceptible to chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves while the veins remain green) in soils that are not sufficiently acidic.

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Fagaceae
Genus Quercus
Common names Oak, Black Oak
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 50' - 60'
(15.2m - 18.3m)
Spread 50' - 60'
(15.2m - 18.3m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Dry Soil, Drought
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Quercus douglasii (Blue Oak)
Quercus chrysolepis (Canyon Live Oak)
Quercus myrtifolia (Myrtle Oak)
Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak)
Quercus phellos (Willow Oak)
Quercus hemisphaerica (Darlington Oak)

Recommended Companion Plants

Fraxinus americana (White Ash)
Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)
Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)
Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)
Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)
Amelanchier arborea (Downy Serviceberry)
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)
Hamamelis virginiana (Virginian Witch Hazel)
Lindera benzoin (Spice Bush)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Roots of Life: Exploring the Diverse World of Trees
Green Canopy, Better World: Exploring the Benefits of Trees
Trees that Invite Wildlife to Your Garden
Spectacular Trees for Vibrant Fall Colors: A Gardener’s Guide
Quercus (Oak) – Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
Grow Your Own Oak Tree: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Acorns
8 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Plant an Oak Tree
Native Oak Trees: A Must-Have for Your Landscape
Native Plant Alternatives to Quercus acutissima (Sawtooth Oak)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Fagaceae
Genus Quercus
Common names Oak, Black Oak
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 50' - 60'
(15.2m - 18.3m)
Spread 50' - 60'
(15.2m - 18.3m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Dry Soil, Drought
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Quercus (Oak)
Not sure which Quercus (Oak) to pick?
Compare Now

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