|Natural range of Quercus stellata|
Quercus stellata (post oak) is an oak in the white oak section. It is a small tree, typically 10–15 m tall and 30–60 cm trunk diameter, though occasional specimens reach 30 m tall and 140 cm diameter. It is native to the eastern United States, from Connecticut in the northeast, west to southern Iowa, southwest to central Texas, and southeast to northern Florida. It is one of the most common oaks in the southern part of the eastern prairies, such as in the Cross Timbers.
The leaves have a very distinctive shape, with three perpendicular terminal lobes, shaped much like a Maltese Cross. They are leathery, and tomentose (densely short-hairy) beneath. The branching pattern of this tree often gives it a rugged appearance. The acorns are 1.5–2 cm long, and are mature in their first summer.
The name refers to the use of the wood of this tree for fence posts. Its wood, like that of the other white oaks, is hard, tough and rot-resistant. This tree tends to be smaller than most other members of the group, with lower, more diffuse branching, largely reflecting its tendency to grow in the open on poor sites, so its wood is of relatively low value as sawn lumber. It is also a popular wood for smoking Texas barbecue.
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