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Swamp White Oak

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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Quercus bicolor
FAMILY: Fagaceae

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 7

Origin: Native to the northern half of the eastern United States

Growth habit: 50 – 60′ height, 40-50 crown spread

Leaves:  The scientific name bicolor refers to the two-colored leaf on this oak.  The upper surface is dark green and the underside of the leave is slightly white with a fuzzy feel to it.   Leaves are 4 to 7 inches long, margin with large irregular blunt teeth, 2 to 4-1/2 inches wide.  The fall color can be yellow-orange with leaves turning brown and somewhat persistent on the tree through the winter.

Twigs: Flaky or scaly, hairless, end buds are chestnut brown, small, blunt.

Flowers: male flowers are yellow-green long catkins (2 to 4 inches long): female flowers are green to red, very small in leaf axils; appearing in mid-spring with the leaves; both male and female flowers are on the same tree

Fruit: Acorn, ½ to ¾ inch long single or double on a 1 to 4 inch stalk, tan in color with slightly fringed cap that covers up to one-third of the acorn.

Bark Light brown to gray, flaky or scaly.

Landscape Value: This tree is naturally found on moist low lying sites.  However, it can tolerate poorly drained or compacted soils typical in Colorado.  Tree is propagated by seed so it is important to know about the seed source (i.e., tolerant of alkaline soils).  Not very common in the nursery trade, but definitely worth planting if a reliable nursery source is located.

Insects and Diseases: No major pests on this tree in Colorado.

Information Sources:  Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Michael Dirr,  Trees of  Utah and the Intermountain West, Michael Kuhns, Wholesale nursery catalogs