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Quercus nigra

water oak

Water oak is a rapid growing tree. Leaves of a mature water oak are usually spatula-shaped while leaves of immature saplings can be long and narrow (see examples on plate below). Many describe the leaf as looking like a duck's foot. Q. nigra can be described as "nearly evergreen" as some green leaves will cling to the tree through the winter. Water oak has strikingly smooth bark.


water oak plate Water oak bough water oak leaves/trunk
Photos by Steve Nix

Start with the Tree Finder if you are not sure what kind of tree you have!

Water Oak Habitat and Culture
(silvics courtesy of Silvics Manual, USFS)

From Virginia Tech w/Photos
(Big List courtesy of VT Dendrology)

North American Timber Types
(courtesy About Forestry)

The Great American Hardwood Forest
(courtesy About Forestry)

Recent Champion: 120' height, 111' spread, 278" circumf., Concordia Parish, Louisiana
National Register of Big Trees

Oak Wood Tech Sheet
(fact sheet courtesy of USFS in .pdf)

Tree and Oak Images
(courtesy of ForestryImages.org)

Historic Oak Images
(courtesy of University of Chicago and the Library of Congress)

Range Map
{Native Range of water oak}
-The native range of water oak, USFS.

Quick Stats
Common Names: possum oak or spotted oak.

Habitat: Commonly found along southeastern watercourses and lowlands on silty clay and loamy soils.

Description: This medium-sized rapid-growing tree is often abundant as second growth on cutover lands.

Uses: planted widely as a street and shade tree in southern communities.

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