QUERCUS ALBA – OAK, WHITE
White Oak has a tap root that grows beneath the trunk in soil that drains well, but this is not present on most trees planted on clay or compacted soil. The availability of new nursery production techniques to control root growth should help growers of nursery plants make more of these native trees available. White Oak grows best in moist soil that does not dry out for long periods. It appears to be well suited for planting in most areas within its hardiness range including the high plains and Rocky Mountains. Trees tolerate high soil salt – up to 8 mmhos/cm. Trees compartmentalize decay fairly well meaning that once injured, the tree has the ability slow or stop the spread of decay.
Trees are usually well structured and require little structural pruning after 20 years except to remove dead wood. Early pruning should concentrate on maintaining a central trunk. Branches should be spaced about 18 to 36 inches apart.
This is the state tree of Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland.
Transplant White Oak when the trees are young since the deep-growing tap root in well-drained soil can make transplanting very difficult. White Oak grows in sun or partial shade and prefers an acid, moist, well-drained soil. Water trees faithfully until well established. Chlorosis due to micronutrient-deficiency occurs on high pH soil.
Wood weighs about 65 pounds per cubic foot and is considered ring porous. Oaks serve as larvae host plants for the brown duskywing butterfly (Erynnis horatius) and the gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus). Tannin is found in both the bark and acorns. Tannin has very powerful antiseptic and astringent properties.