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Quercus stellata Wangenh.
Post Oak, Iron Oak, Cross Oak
Fagaceae (Beech Family)
Synonym(s): Quercus stellata var. attenuata, Quercus stellata var. parviloba
USDA Symbol: qust
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
This is a 40-50 ft., sometimes taller, coarse-branched, deciduous oak with a dense, oval crown. The trunk is gray to light reddish-brown. Leaf blades variable, 3 to 5 inches long or longer, wavy margined to deeply lobed; the lobes rounded and up to 4 on each side, the upper pair often much larger than the others. Acorns up to 3/4 inch long, sometimes to 1 1/4 inches, the cup without the fringe found in Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa). Post oak is a variable tree with great variation in leaf, bark and habit.
The wood is marketed as White Oak and used for railroad cross-ties, posts, and construction timbers. Of large size in the lower Mississippi Valley where it is known as "Delta Post Oak." Post Oak and Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica) form the Cross Timbers in Texas and Oklahoma, the forest border of small trees and transition zone to prairie grassland.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Obovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Lobed
Leaf Base: Cordate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 100 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Light brown to almost black
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: MA to c. FL, w. to e. KS & c. TX
Native Habitat: Dry, upland ridges & prairie edges.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry to moist, rocky or sandy soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Acid-based.
Conditions Comments: Post oak is the most common oak throughout Texas. The typical places to see it are sites with sandy or gravelly soils. Its acorns are an important food source for deer, squirrels, wild turkeys and other wildlife. Larval host for several butterfly species. This plant is common in the central and southern forest regions, where it is a medium-sized tree. This is the ultimate drought resistant tree, but also grows in soggy, flatwoods soils. It is smaller in dry portions of the western part of its range. Its roots are extremely sensitive to disturbance. Susceptible to oak wilt. Not often used in landscape situations. Slow-growing and long-lived.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Shade tree, Attractive
Use Wildlife: Nesting site, Substrate-insectivorous birds, Cover, Fruit-mammals, Fruit-birds, Fruit-rodents, Fruit-deer.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Northern hairstreak, Horace's Duskywing
PropagationDescription: Oaks are most often propagated from seed. No pretreatment is necessary. Plant immediately – outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. The acorns sprout without a dormancy period and begin to germinate as soon as they fall.
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.
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
BibliographyBibref 283 - Cast Iron Forest: a natural and cultural history of the North American Cross Timbers (2000) Francaviglia, R. V.
Bibref 766 - Dale Groom's Texas Gardening Guide (2002) Groom, D.
Bibref 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 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.
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.4 - Controlling Oak Wilt, Jubilee Celebration Expands Endowment, Director\'s Report...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Quercus stellata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quercus stellata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quercus stellata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-09-22
Research By: TWC Staff