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Quercus lyrata (Overcup oak)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Quercus lyrata

Quercus lyrata Walter

Overcup Oak, Swamp Post Oak, Water White Oak, Swamp White Oak

Fagaceae (Beech Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Overcup oak bears a distinctive acorn; the nut is almost entirely covered by the cup. The 30-45 ft., deciduous tree has a rounded crown at maturity. Its lower branches are upswept. Dark-green, leathery leaves turn rich, tannin-brown in fall, abscising early. Tree with rounded crown of small, often drooping branches, with acorns almost covered by the cup, and narrow deeply lobed leaves.

A medium to large slow growing tree up to 80 feet (24.4 m), occasionally to 155 feet (47.2 m), with a rounded crown. BARK: gray with deep furrows and scaly ridges or plates. TWIGS and BUDS: grayish pubescent twigs becoming smooth with age; ovoid buds with light brown pubescent scales. LEAVES: petiole 3⁄4 inch (19 mm) in length; leaf blade narrowly oblong, 4 - 6 1⁄2 inches (101 - 165 mm) long, 2 - 4 inches (51 - 101 mm) wide, base cuneate to acute, margins deeply lobed with sinuses greater than 1⁄2 way to midrib, lobes rounded with 1 - 3 teeth; surface dark green (may be shiny) above, and pubescent grayish-green below, with a whitish bloom that rubs off.

The Latin species name, meaning "lyre-shaped," refers to the leaves.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Oblong
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Lobed
Leaf Base: Cuneate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Medium to large slow growing tree up to 80 feet (24.4 m), occasionally to 155 feet (47.2 m) tall.
Leaf: Leaf surface dark green (may be shiny) above, and pubescent grayish-green below.
Fruit: Acorns annual; 1 1⁄2 inch (38 mm) peduncle with 1 - 2 acorns; spheroid shaped cup with gray pubescent scales, covering most of the nut; light brown, ovoid or oblong nut, 1 - 2 inches (25 - 51 mm) long, finely pubescent.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Delaware and New Jersey south to Florida, west to Texas, and north through the Mississippi Valley and drainages to Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Native Habitat: Restricted to poorly-drained lowlands of the Southern coastal plain and major rivers of the South and mid West.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Poorly drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Tolerates flooding. Not widely available, but is likely to become an important landscape tree.


Use Wildlife: Attracts migratory waterfowl.
Use Other: This oak species is often utilized as white oak lumber.
Interesting Foliage: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


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

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2015-11-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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