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Bur Oak, A Common Tree in North America

Quercus macrocarpa, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America


Bur oak is a classic tree of the American savanna. Q. macrocarpa has sheltered the Great Plains for centuries even where other tree species have made attempts but failed. It is a member of the the white oak family. The bur oak acorn cup has a burry fringe and is a major identifier along with the leaf's large middle sinus that gives it a "pinched waist" look. Corky ridges often adorn the twigs.

1. The Silviculture of Bur Oak

Bur Oak Illustration
Acorns of bur oak make up much of the food of red squirrels and are also eaten by wood ducks, white-tailed deer, New England cottontails, mice, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and other rodents. Bur oak has also been praised as an excellent landscaping tree.

2. The Images of Bur Oak

Bur Oak
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of bur oak. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Fagales > Fagaceae > Quercus macrocarpa Michx. Bur oak is also commonly called blue oak, mossy cup oak.

3. The Range of Bur Oak

Bur Oak Range
Bur oak is widely distributed throughout the Eastern United States and the Great Plains. It ranges from southern New Brunswick, central Maine, Vermont, and southern Quebec, west through Ontario to southern Manitoba, and extreme southeastern Saskatchewan, south to North Dakota, extreme southeastern Montana, northeastern Wyoming, South Dakota, central Nebraska, western Oklahoma, and southeastern Texas, then northeast to Arkansas, central Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. It also grows in Louisiana and Alabama.

4. Bur Oak at Virginia Tech Dendrology

Leaf: Alternate, simple, 6 to 12 inches long, roughly obovate in shape, with many lobes. The two middle sinuses nearly reach the midrib dividing leaf nearly in half. The lobes near the tip resemble a crown, green above and paler, fuzzy below.

Twig: Quite stout, yellow-brown, often with corky ridges; multiple terminal buds are small, round, and may be somewhat pubescent often surrounded by thread-like stipules; laterals are similar, but smaller.

5. Fire Effects on Bur Oak

Bur oak bark is thick and fire resistant. Larger trees often survive fire. Bur oak sprouts vigorously from the stump or root crown after fire. It sprouts most prolifically from pole-size or smaller trees, although larger trees may produce some sprouts.

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