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Loveless, Brenda K.
Quercus phellos L.
USDA Symbol: quph
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Willow oak, a deciduous tree, can attain 100 ft. but is usually shorter in cultivation. Its straight trunk supports a cone-shaped crown which becomes round at maturity. Long, fine-textured, narrow leaves with tiny awn at apex, resembling the foliage of willows, turn from bright green in summer to yellow or russet in fall. Bark is gray to reddish brown. Nut nearly round, cup shallow.
A popular street and shade tree with fine-textured foliage, widely planted in Washington, D.C., and southward. Its disadvantage, however, is that is becomes too large to be grown around houses. Readily transplanted because of shallow roots. Easily distinguishable from most other oaks by the narrow leaves without lobes or teeth. While superficially the foliage resembles that of willows, it is recognized as an oak by the acorns and the tiny bristle-tip. City squirrels as well as wildlife consume and spread the acorns.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Light yellow or greenish brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
, VA Native Distribution:
to n. FL,
n. to s. IL
& NJ Native Habitat:
Alluvial soils, moist forests, stream banks and bottomlands.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist clay or loamy, slightly acid, soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based
BenefitUse Ornamental: Fall conspicuous, popular shade tree.
Use Wildlife: Fruit-mammals, Fruit-birds, Nesting site, Cover, Substrate-insectivorous birds.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: White M hairstreak, Horaces Duskywing.
Oaks are most often propagated from seed. Stratify or plant immediately outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. Many oaks require cold temperatures to initiate shoot
development. Protect outdoor beds with wire mesh Seed Collection:
Best quality acorns are picked or shaken from the tree. Collect when color has changed to brown. Best if sown immediately as acorns lose viability quickly in storage. Short-term storage in moist, shaded saw dust or sand. Acorns to be sown immediately can be soaked in hot water for 15 min. to prevent weevil infestation. Stored seed should be fumigated with methyl bromide. Seed Treatment:
Stratify 30-60 days at 41 degrees. Commercially Avail:
Prevent complete soil dryness, May be pruned 12 mo. out of the year, Prune to maintain shape, Fertilize 3 times a year with lawn fertilizer 3:1:2 ratio
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-06
Research By: TWC Staff