|Natural range of Quercus stellata|
Quercus stellata (Post oak) is a North American species of oak in the white oak section. It is native to the eastern and central United States, found in all the coastal states from Massachusetts to Texas, and inland as far as Nebraska.
Quercus stellata is a small tree, typically 10–15 meters (33-50 feet) tall and trunk 30–60 cm (1-2 feet) in diameter, though occasional specimens reach 30 meters (100 feet) tall and 140 cm (56 inches or 4.7 feet) in diameter. 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 (0.6-0.8 inch) long, and are mature in their first summer.
The common 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. The scientific epithet "stellata" means "star-shaped," referring to the branching hairs on the leaves, looking like small stars under the microscope.
- Quercus stellata images from Vanderbilt University
- photo of herbarium specimen at Missouri Botanical Garden, collected in Missouri in 1939
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