Crooked Run Valley
swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor)
swamp white oak
Quercus alba var. palustris Castigl.
Quercus bicolor var. angustifolia Dippel
Quercus bicolor var. cuneiformis Dippel
Quercus bicolor var. mollis Nutt.
Quercus bicolor var. platanoides (Castigl.) A. DC.
Quercus discolor var. bicolor (Willd.) Hampton
Quercus filiformis Muhl. ex A. DC.
Quercus mollis Raf.
Quercus paludosa Petz. & G. Kirchn.
Quercus pannosa Bosc ex A. DC.
Quercus platanoides (Castigl.) Sudw.
Quercus prinus var. bicolor (Willd.) Spach
Quercus prinus var. discolor F. Michx.
Quercus prinus var. platanoides Castigl.
Quercus prinus var. tomentosa Michx.
Quercus velutina L'Hér. ex A. DC., nom. illeg.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of swamp white
oak is Quercus bicolor Willd. There are no recognized varieties or forms.
Swamp white oak hybridizes with the following: 1) Quercus alba (Quercus
X jackiana Schneider) 2) Quercus stellata (Quercus X substellata Trel.) 3)
Quercus lyrata (Quercus X humidicola E.J. Palmer), and 4) Quercus
macrocarpa (Quercus X Hillii Trel.). Quercus X introgressa is a hybrid
cross formed with another hybrid parent. Quercus meuhlenbergii is intro-
gressed by Quercus prinoides and Quercus bicolor.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Swamp white oak is a
native deciduous tree that reaches heights of 50 to 70 feet (15-20 m) and
diameters of 2 to 3 feet (0.6-1 m). It has a limby bole and an open, irregu-
larly shaped crown. Its bark is flakey and grey. Its leaves resemble those
of chestnut (Castanea spp.); they are shallowly lobed with serrate margins.
The fruit is an acorn 0.75 to 1.25 inches (2-3 cm) long. A mossy-like fringed
cup covers from one-third to one-half of the acorn. Acorns are one seeded
(rarely two) and form singly or in clusters.
REGENERATION PROCESSES: Swamp white oak reproduces by seed,
which mature in 1 year. Good seed crops are produced every 4 to 7 years,
ut many acorns are infested by insects. Acorns must be collected shortly
after falling to prevent early germination. Viability can be tested by dump-
ing acorns into water. Those that float are not viable. Acorns cannot be
stored for more than a few months. Cleaned seed averages 120 per pound
(108/kg). One hundred pounds of fruit will average between 60 and 75
pounds (54-67.5/kg) of seed. Seedlings grow slowly at less than 6 inches
(15 cm) per year.
Swamp white oak can sprout from its trunk.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Swamp white oak occurs in river bottom-
lands, depressions, along streamsides, swamp borders, and on moist peaty
flats. It is a minor component in tamarack (Larix laricina) swamps of south-
western Michigan. Along the Ohio shores of Lake Erie, swamp white oak
grows in Toledo soil, a very poorly drained, silty clay. It also grows on Nap-
panee soils, which are somewhat poorly drained silt loams . Along the
Kankakee River on the Illinois and Indiana border, swamp white oak is a
major overstory component of the floodplain forest. Here the soils are
highly permeable, frequently flooded sandy loams. In Quebec, swamp
white oak occurs on sandy and loamy sand alluvium between 68 and 87
feet (22.6 and 28.9 m) in elevation. Swamp white oak prefers full sun to
partial sun (partial shade tolerant in youth).
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Swamp white oak is intermediate in shade
tolerance but not very drought tolerant. It is a dominant tree in wetlands
on infertile to fertile soils of oak ecosystems in southeastern Michigan.
Without disturbance elm (Ulmus americana)-ash (Fraxinus spp.)-cotton-
wood (Populus spp.) types will convert to oak-dominated types that include
swamp white oak. White oak (Quercus alba) forests of southern Ohio (of
which swamp white oak is a component) will progress towards hickory and
beech forests if undisturbed.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Swamp white oak acorns ripen from
August through December.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Swamp white oak occurs mainly in the
midwestern states from Iowa, southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio
south to northern Kentucky. Isolated populations occur in Minnesota, New
England, Quebec, Ontario, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Tree specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Swamp white oak
is found in lowlands, along edges of streams, and in swamps subject to
Plant associates include pin oak (Quercus palustris), northern red oak
(Quercus rubra), hickory (Carya spp.), beech (Fagus spp.), sweetgum
(Liquidambar styraciflua), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), red
maple (Acer rubrum), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), green ash
(Fraxinus pennsylvanicum), tamarack, dogwood (Cornus spp.), sumac
(Rhus spp.), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), holly
(Ilex spp.), and viburnum (Viburnum spp.).
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Swamp white oak acorns are an important
food for wildlife such as squirrels, white-tailed deer, beaver, black bear,
and a variety of birds.
It provides cover for birds and mammals.Swamp white oak is planted on
Oak species account for one-third of the hardwood sawtimber volume in
the United States. Swamp white oak is a heavy, hard wood that machines
well, but it can check and warp if not dried properly. It is used for furni-
ture, flooring, boxes, crates, barrels, kegs, ships and boats.