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Quercus laurifolia

Quercus laurifolia Michx.

Laurel Oak, Swamp Laurel Oak, Darlington Oak, Diamond-leaf Oak, Laurel-leaf Oak, Water Oak, Obtusa Oak

Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Synonym(s): Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus obtusa, Quercus phellos var. laurifolia, Quercus succulenta

USDA Symbol: QULA3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Laurel oak, a pyramidal-rounded tree, ranges in size from 40-80 ft. tall and 30-40 ft. wide, sometimes much larger. Glossy, dark-green, unlobed, long, broad, oval leaves persist into January. The bark is gray. Large, nearly evergreen tree with dense, broad, rounded crown.

GROWTH FORM: semi-evergreen with leaves retained until the following spring; short-lived medium tree that grows up to 80 feet (24.4 m) with a dense rounded crown. BARK: dark brown, mature bark turning black with deep furrows and broad flat ridges. TWIGS and BUDS: smooth reddish- brown twigs; buds are ovoid, pointed and covered with shiny chestnut-brown scales. LEAVES: short, smooth petiole up to 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) long; leaf blade broadly elliptical and thin, 1 1⁄4 - 4 3⁄4 inches (32 - 121 mm) long, 5⁄8 - 1 3⁄4 inches (16 - 44 mm) wide, base cuneate, bristle-tipped acute apex, may be irregularly 3-lobed, shiny green upper surface and pale green below with a yellow midrib, both surfaces are smooth.

Common and Latin species names refer to the resemblance of the foliage to Grecian Laurel (Laurus nobilis L.), of the Mediterranean region. A handsome shade tree, widely planted in the Southeast. President L. B. Johnson planted one at the White House in Washington, DC.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Cuneate
Leaf Texture: Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Commonly grows up to 80 feet tall with a dense rounded crown. May grow up to about 125 feet tall, by 90 feet wide.
Leaf: Leaves shiny green upper surface and pale green below with a yellow midrib.
Fruit: Acorns biennial; nearly sessile, saucer-like cup with pubescent scales and pubescent inner surface, enclosing up to 1⁄4 of nut; nearly round dark brown nut, 5⁄8 inch (16 mm) in length.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , NC , PA , SC , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Texas east to Florida and north to Virginia.
Native Habitat: Moist soils of the southeastern coastal plain and associated with typical mesic hardwoods.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: This species is closely related to Q. nigra and Q. phellos. It has no pest problems and is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions.


Use Ornamental: Swamp laurel oak is often used as an ornamental in the South.
Interesting Foliage: yes


Description: Oaks are most often propagated from seed. No pretreatment is necessary. 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
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.
Commercially Avail: yes

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.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS


Bibref 1134 - Field Guide to Native Oak Species of Eastern North America (2003) Stein, John D. and Denise Binion
Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Quercus laurifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quercus laurifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quercus laurifolia


Record Modified: 2022-09-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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