Handsome and sturdy, the white oak is named for its whitish bark and grey twigs. White Oaks are large, long-lived, and slow-growing trees, reaching heights of 60 to 150 feet, with diameters between 3 to 4 feet. Their glossy, bright green leaves have rounded lobes, five to seven per leaf. The species is found commonly throughout Maryland.
Sometime around its fiftieth year, a white oak begins to produce acorns and may produce 10,000 annually. Crowned with shallow caps that are smooth underneath, these acorns sprout soon after falling from the tree. Sweet to the taste, they are a dietary mainstay for over 80 species of birds and mammals. Native Americans ground acorns into flour, a technique they shared with early European settlers.
White oaks produce prime hardwood lumber with a fine, almost watertight grain, excellent for barrel staves.
Bark of White Oak, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1998.
Photo by Elizabeth W. Newell.
July 18, 2000
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