Quercus bicolor

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Swamp white oak
Quercus bicolor morton acc 71-69-2.jpg
Morton Arboretum acc. 71-69-2
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Section: Quercus
Species: Q. bicolor
Binomial name
Quercus bicolor
Quercus bicolor range map 1.png
  • 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 bicolor, the swamp white oak, is a medium-sized tree of America's north central and northeastern mixed forests. It has a very large range, and can survive in a variety of habitats. It grows rapidly and can reach 60 to 80 feet tall with the tallest known reaching 29 m (95 ft) [2] and lives up to 350 years.

It forms hybrids with bur oak where they occur together in the wild.

Swamp white oak leaves


The bark resembles the white oak. The leaves are broad ovoid, 12–18 cm (4–7 in) long and 7-11 (3–4 in) cm 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 (rarely 2.5 cm) (.6-.8 in, rarely 1 in) long and 1–2 cm (.4-.8 in) broad, maturing about 6 months after pollination.


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 °C (60 °F) to 4 °C (40 °F). Extremes in temperature vary from 41 °C (105 °F) to -34 °C (-30 °F). Average annual precipitation is from 640 mm (25 in) to 1270 mm (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.


Range Map of Quercus bicolor from 1971

Swamp white oak, a lowland tree, grows from southwestern Maine west to New York, southern Quebec, and southern Ontario, to central Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and southeastern Minnesota; south to Iowa and Missouri; east to Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and New Jersey. It is scattered in North Carolina and northeastern Kansas. This species is most common and reaches its largest size in western New York and northern Ohio.[3]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

It is one of the more important white oaks for lumber production. In recent years, the swamp white oak has become a popular landscaping tree, partly due to its relative ease of transplanting.

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


Quercus robur fastigiata x Quercus bicolor 'Nadler' Kindred Spirit Hybrid Oak


  1. ^ Tropicos, Quercus bicolor
  2. ^ Muhlenberg, Ges. Naturf. Freunde Berlin Neue Schriften. 3: 396. 1801.
  3. ^ “Swamp White Oak” US Forest Service. Retrieved on 14 December 2009.