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Willow Oak, A Common Tree in North America

Quercus phellos, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America


Willow oak (Quercus phellos) grows on a variety of moist alluvial soils, commonly on lands along water courses. This medium to large southern oak with willowlike foliage is known for its rapid growth and long life. It is an important source of lumber and pulp, as well as an important species to wildlife because of heavy annual acorn production. It is also a favored shade tree, easily transplanted and used widely in urban areas.

1. The Silviculture of Willow Oak

Steve Nix
Since it produces an acorn crop almost every year, willow oak is an important species for wildlife food production. A favored shade tree, it is widely planted as an ornamental. It is also a good species to plant along margins of fluctuating-level reservoirs. Willow oak is being utilized in hardwood plantations, since it gives a good combination of pulping characteristics and growth rate.

2. The Images of Willow Oak

Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of willow oak. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Fagales > Fagaceae > Quercus phellos. Willow oak is also commonly called peach oak, pin oak, and swamp chestnut oak.

3. The Range of Willow Oak

Willow Oak Range
Willow oak is found mainly in bottom lands of the Coastal Plain from New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania south to Georgia and northern Florida; west to eastern Texas; and north in the Mississippi Valley to southeastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Kentucky, and western Tennessee.

4. Willow Oak at Virginia Tech

Leaf: Alternate, simple, 2 to 5 inches long, linear or lanceolate in shape (willow-like) with an entire margin and a bristle tip.

Twig: Slender, hairless, olive-brown in color when young; multiple terminal buds are very small, reddish brown and sharp-pointed.

5. Fire Effects on Willow Oak

Willow oak is easily damaged by fire. Seedlings and saplings are usually top-killed by low-severity fire. Large trees are top-killed by high-severity fire. In a study on the Santee Experimental Forest in South Carolina, periodic winter and summer low-severity fires and annual winter and summer low-severity fires were effective at reducing the number of hardwood stems (including willow oak) between 1 and 5 inches (2.6-12.5 cm) in d.b.h. Annual summer fires also reduced the number of stems less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in d.b.h. Root systems were weakened and eventually killed by burning during the growing season.

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