Quercus velutina Lam.
Black Oak, Quercitron Oak, Yellow Oak, Smoothbark Oak, Yellowbark Oak
Fagaceae (Beech Family)
Synonym(s): Quercus velutina var. missouriensis
USDA Symbol: QUVE
Black oak, a deciduous tree, reaches 50-80 ft. high and the spread is variable. Large, spreading branches form an open crown that is often quite irregular. Catkins appear just before or with the appearance of new leaves. Thick, glossy, pointed-lobed black oak leaves often turn orange or red in fall.
Easily distinguishable by the yellow or orange inner bark, formerly a source of tannin, of medicine, and of a yellow dye for cloth known as quercitron. Peeled bark was dried, pounded to powder, and the dye sifted out.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 80 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Native Distribution: S.w. ME to NY, MI WI, extreme s.e. MN & e. NE, s. to n.w. FL & e. TX
Native Habitat: Dry, sandy, upland woods
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Dry, sandy to moist, rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Quercus velutina exhibits medium longevity for an oak. It is prone to structural damage and decay. Do not prune in wilt-infested areas during the growing season as the species is susceptible to oak wilt.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Attracts songbirds, ground birds and mammals.
Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out. Gather nuts during the fall from September to October. Only gather the ripe tan-to-brown acorns, rather than the unripe green ones. remove bitterness, shell the brown, ripe acorns and remove any corky skin layers, dice the meat, and boil the chunks in water from 15 to 30 minutes until the water turns brown. Then pour off the water and repeat the process until the water clears, indicating that the tannic acid has been removed. During the last boiling, salt water can be added; then the acorns can be deep fried or mixed in a soup. Finely chopped acorn meats can be added to bread doughs and muffin batters. After the leaching process, acorn meat can be frozen. To make flour, the boiled acorn meat can be split in two and dried by slowly baking in a 200 degree oven with the door cracked to allow moisture to escape. Crush or grind and use as a thickener or a flour. Another method is to roast the fresh acorn to work well in a grinder or blender. After grinding, place the flour into a cloth bag and boil to leach out bitterness. Leached acorns, after they are roasted until brittle, can be ground and used as a marginal coffee substitute. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Use Other: A yellow dye can be made from the inner bark. (Hosie)
The wood is used for flooring, boxcars, cooperage. (Peattie)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Acorns (seeds of nuts) and young leaves. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include stomach pain, constipation and later bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Edward's Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii)
PropagationDescription: Oaks are most often propagated from seed. No pretreatment is necessary. Plant immediately – outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. This species is very difficult to transplant. Many oaks require cold temperatures to initiat
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
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1777 - Native Trees of Canada (1979) Hosie, R.
Bibref 400 - Natural History of Trees of Eastern & Central North America (1991) Peattie, D.C. & P. H. Landacre
Bibref 663 - Poisonous Plants of North Carolina (1994) Vondracek, W. ; L. Van Asch
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.5 - Penny Campaign Grows Oklahoma Wildflowers, Wildflower Center Collects Honors, Di...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Quercus velutina in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quercus velutina in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quercus velutina
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-09-22
Research By: TWC Staff