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Native Plant of the Week: Eastern White Oak

Family: Fagaceae

Name: Quercus alba - Eastern White Oak

Bloom Time: April, May

Flower: Catkins are Yellowish Green, 2-4" long (male), Reddish Green, 1 1/4" long (female)

Fruit: Acorn

Soil Condition: Moist, Average, Acidic

Light: Sun

Height: 50-80' tall (sometimes to 100') with a canopy reaching to 80' wide

Native Range: Eastern United States including Long Island

Zone: 3 to 9

Quercus alba is a wildlife superstar! It is a larval host to over 300 different moths and butterflies. Birds, deer, squirrels and other small mammals eat the acorns, the largest in the Oak family. Fall color is a lovely reddish brown. This is also the oak used for wine and whiskey casks, furniture In colonial times the wood was used in shipbuilding.

Maintenance: Susceptible to wind damage. Does not like to have its roots disturbed so if you are going to be planting under it use plugs, bare root or 1 quart plants.

Benefits: long lived, host plant to several moths and butterflies including Edwards Hairstreak, clay soil tolerant, juglone tolerant (Black Walnut, Hickory), drought tolerant once established, deer resistant

Fun Fact: We can eat acorns too! They must be boiled several times to remove the tannins (see reference 3 for how to cook acorns)

Companion Plants: Carex pensylvanica - Oak Sedge, Polystichum acrostichoides - Christmas Fern, Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea, Cornus florida - Common Dogwood, Chimaphila maculata - Striped Wintergreen

Pictures: Seedling of a white oak (Cathy Dewitt NCSU), Leaves (Cathy Dewitt NCSU), Bark (Kerry Woods NCSU), Majestic Oak (Nicholas A. Tonelli NCSU), Acorn (NatureServe NCSU), Winter Silhouette (Cyn Slaughter NCSU)



3. The Nature of Oaks, Douglas Tallamy (2021)

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