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Uses Name


Quercus sp.

Family: Fagaceae

  • throughout the United States
White Oak
Species Identification:
  • leaves (shape, bristle-tipped or rounded)
  • bark
  • acorns and caps
  • buds (hairy or hairless)
  • twigs (hairy or hairless)
Red Oak Leaf Black Oak Leaf white oak
  • lobed, wave-edged, or smooth-edged
  • Red Oak: bristle-tipped, moderately lobed, hairless, thin, dull green above
  • Black Oak: bristle-tipped, thickened, glossy above, mostly hairless beneath
  • White Oaks: rounded tips, no bristles, hairless, somewhat whitened beneath
red oak leaf black oak leaf
White Oak Leaf
  • male flowers appear in May and early June as slender drooping clusters of long catkins
  • female blossoms are inconspicuous
white oak leaf
Red Oak Acorn Black Oak Acorn
Fruit (acorns):
  • acorns differ by species and are a useful identification tool
  • Red Oak: acorn cup is flat and saucer-like, overlapping scales
  • Black Oak: cup is bowl shaped and shaggy
  • White Oak: cup is bumpy and bowl shaped, covering less than 1/3 of acorn; acorn is greenish-white
red oak acorn black oak acorn
White Oak Acorn
Red Oak Bark Black Oak Bark
white oak acorn
  • Red Oak: long thin strips with rough shiny ridges, red underbark
  • Black Oak: dark blocky trunk, no shiny ridges
  • White Oak: light gray, slightly furrowed to scaly
red oak bark black oak bark
Buds and Twigs:
  • Red Oak: hairless, sharp or blunt, not angled
  • Black Oak: gray-hairy, pointed, sharply angled
  • White Oak: red-brown, small, blunt, hairless, not angled
  • Red, Black, and White twigs are hairless
White Oak Bark
white oak bark
Oak wood is excellent for building or burning. Small oaks can be split and cut into long thin strips (3 to 6 millimeters thick and 1.2 centimeters wide) used to weave mats, baskets, or frameworks for packs, sleds, etc. Oak bark soaked in water produces a tanning solution used to preserve leather. Inner bark of the oak produces a strong dye or can be stripped to make cordage. Eating untensils can be carved from the nonresinous wood because you do not get a wood resin aftertaste or taint the food. A block of this hardwood is ideal for making the drill and handle of a bow drill, useful for igniting a pile of tinder. A section of green twig from this tree can be used as an old-fashioned toothbrush. Powdered oak gall can be used as tinder and sprinkled on a glowing ember and gently fanned to produce a flame. This dense hardwood burns slowly and evenly making it ideal for slow cooking. The acorns can be boiled to make a dye for fabric.

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