Quercus bicolor

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Swamp white oak
Morton Arboretum acc. 71-69-2

Secure  (NatureServe)[2]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Subgenus: Quercus subg. Quercus
Section: Quercus sect. Quercus
Q. bicolor
Binomial name
Quercus bicolor
Natural range
  • Quercus bicolor var. angustifolia Dippel
  • Quercus bicolor var. cuneiformis Dippel
  • Quercus bicolor var. platanoides (Castigl.) A.DC
  • Quercus discolor var. bicolor (Willd.) Hampton
  • Quercus mollis Raf.
  • Quercus paludosa Petz. & G.Kirchn.
  • Quercus platanoides (Castigl) Sudworth
  • Quercus prinus var. bicolor (Willd.) Spach
  • Quercus prinus var. discolor F.Michx
  • Quercus prinus var. platanoides Castigl.
  • Quercus prinus var. tomentosa Michx.
  • Quercus filiformis Muhl. ex A.DC., not validly published
  • Quercus pannosa Bosc ex A.DC., not validly published
  • Quercus platanoides (Lam.) Sudw.
  • Quercus velutina L'Hér. ex A.DC.

Quercus bicolor, the swamp white oak, is a North American species of medium-sized trees in the beech family. It is a common element of America's north central and northeastern mixed forests. It can survive in a variety of habitats. It forms hybrids with bur oak where they occur together in the wild.


Quercus bicolor grows rapidly and can reach 18 to 24 meters (60 to 80 feet) tall with the tallest known reaching 29 m (95 ft) and lives up to 285 years.[6] The bark resembles that of the white oak. The leaves are broad ovoid, 12–18 centimetres (4+34–7 inches) long and 7–11 cm (2+344+14 in) broad, always more or less glaucous on the underside, and are shallowly lobed with five to seven lobes on each side, intermediate between the chestnut oak and the white oak. In autumn, they turn brown, yellow-brown, or sometimes reddish, but generally, the color is not as reliable or as brilliant as the white oak can be. The fruit is a peduncled acorn, 1.5–2 cm (5834 in), rarely 2.5 cm (1 in), long and 1–2 cm (3834 in) broad, maturing about six months after pollination.[7] Good crops of swamp white oak occur every 3 to 5 years, with light crops during intervening years. The minimum seed-bearing age is 20 years, optimum age is 75 to 200 years, and maximum age is usually 300 years. Because the seed of swamp white oak is not dormant, it germinates soon after falling. Seed collections should be made soon after ripening in order to delay early germination. These acorns are difficult to store without germination or loss of viability occurring. Sound acorns have a germinative capacity between 78 and 98 percent. Gravity, rodents, and water are the primary dispersing agents (4,10).[8]

Swamp white oak may live up to 300 years.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Swamp white oak, a lowland tree, occurs across the eastern and central United States and eastern and central Canada, from Maine to South Carolina, west as far as Ontario, Minnesota, and Tennessee with a few isolated populations in Nebraska and Alabama. This species is most common and reaches its largest size in western New York and northern Ohio.[9][10]

The swamp white oak generally occurs singly in four different forest types: black ash–American elm–red maple, silver maple–American elm, bur oak, and pin oak–sweetgum. Occasionally the swamp white oak is abundant in small areas. It is found within a very wide range of mean annual temperatures from 16 to 4 °C (61 to 39 °F). Extremes in temperature vary from 41 to −34 °C (106 to −29 °F). Average annual precipitation is from 640 to 1,270 millimetres (25 to 50 in). The frost-free period ranges from 210 days in the southern part of the growing area to 120 days in the northern part. The swamp white oak typically grows on hydromorphic soils. It is not found where flooding is permanent, although it is usually found in broad stream valleys, low-lying fields, and the margins of lakes, ponds, or sloughs. It occupies roughly the same ecological niche as pin oak, which seldom lives longer than 100 years, but is not nearly as abundant.


It is one of the more important white oaks for lumber production. The wood is similar to that of Q. alba and is not differentiated from it in the lumber trade. In recent years, the swamp white oak has become a popular landscaping tree due to its relative ease of transplanting. This is the species that was chosen to be planted around the 911 Memorial Site in Manhattan.

Being in the white oak group, wildlife such as deer, bears, turkeys, ducks, and geese as well as other animals are attracted to this tree when acorns are dropping in the fall.


A mix of Quercus robur fastigiata x Quercus bicolor, named 'Nadler' or the Kindred Spirit hybrid oak, exists.


  1. ^ Kenny, L.; Wenzell, K.; Jerome, D. (2017). "Quercus bicolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T194069A111189345. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T194069A111189345.en. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  2. ^ "NatureServe Explorer". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  3. ^ First described in Muhlenberg, Heinrich Ernst (1801). "Kurze Bemerkungen über die in der Gegend von Lancaster in Nordamerika wachsenden Arten der Gattungen Juglans, Fraxinus und Quercus" [Short remarks on the plants growing in the region of Lancaster in North America from the genera Juglans, Fraxinus, and Quercus]. Der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin, Neue Schriften. 3. With remarks by Carl Ludwig Willdenow: 396.
  4. ^ "Quercus bicolor". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden.
  5. ^ "Quercus bicolor". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – via The Plant List. Note that this website has been superseded by World Flora Online
  6. ^ "Eastern OLDLIST of maximum tree ages".
  7. ^ Nixon, Kevin C. (1997). "Quercus bicolor". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 3. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  8. ^ "Swamp White Oak".
  9. ^ Rogers, Robert (1990). "Quercus bicolor". In Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H. (eds.). Hardwoods. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: United States Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 14 December 2009 – via Southern Research Station.
  10. ^ "Quercus bicolor". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014.

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