General: Willow oak is a medium to large-sized tree that grows up to over 100 feet tall, with a trunk 3 to 6 feet in diameter. It has thick, smooth, light-reddish bark when young; which becomes roughened and divided into narrow ridges on older trees. The leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, elongated and slender, with smooth edges; they are light green and shiny above, dull and paler below with distinct venation. The small, round, brown acorns are usually produced singly or in pairs with a shallow, saucer-shaped cap. The overlapping scales that make up the cap are thin, hairy, and dark red.
Erosion Control: Willow oak is a good tree species to plant along margins of fluctuating-level reservoirs.
Wildlife: Its acorn is relished by game animals and birds such as ducks, squirrels, deer, and turkey, blue jays and red-headed woodpeckers. Grackles, flickers, mice and flying squirrels utilize the tree itself.
Timber: The wood is used for lumber, crossties, construction and pulp.
Recreation and Beautification: Willow oak is widely planted as an ornamental and shade tree.
Adaptation and Distribution
Willow oak is well adapted to moist, well-drained, acid soils and full sun or light shade. It grows mainly in bottomlands of the Coastal Plain from New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania south to Georgia and northern Florida; west to eastern Texas; and north in the Mississippi Valley to southeastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Kentucky and western Tennessee.
Natural regeneration is principally through sprouts from stumps of small trees and advance reproduction. Larger diameter stumps do not sprout readily. Willow oaks may be established by planting acorns. Acorns collected in the fall may be sown immediately or kept in cold storage until spring.
USDA NRCS (2002). Willow oak plant fact sheet. Retrieved from http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
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