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Zones A3, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 10, 32-43
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Quercus bicolor

Swamp White Oak
Deciduous, Trees


The archetypal oak grows large and spreads wide, with muscular, near-horizontal lower branches that seem to defy gravity. But the group’s 500 species, all native to the Northern Hemisphere, also include upright, pyramidal, and shrubby oaks; in fact, “chaparral” comes from chaparra—Spanish for a dwarf evergreen shrub oak. Oak leaves can be deciduous or evergreen (the latter are called live oaks); lobed, toothed, or smooth edged; but they’re always arranged in an alternate pattern along stems. Some have terrific fall color. All oaks produce inconspicuous flowers followed by acorns, whose single nuts have cuplike caps covered with closely set scales. Some kinds of acorns are edible and sweet, while others are bitter and unpalatable.

Oaks come in two broad categories: white oaks have acorns that mature during the season in which they are produced, and often have leaves with rounded lobes; red and black oaks have acorns that take two seasons to mature, and often have leaves with pointed lobes. Each group can hybridize only within itself. 

Quercus bicolor

Deciduous tree. Slow to moderate growth to 50–60 ft., rarely taller, with equal or greater spread. Bark of trunk and branches flakes off in scales. Shallowly lobed or scalloped leaves are 3–7 in. long, a little more than half as wide, shiny dark green above, silvery white beneath. Fall color is usually yellow but sometimes orange, fiery red, or purple. Oblong to egg-shaped, 1-in. acorns are enclosed by one-third in rounded cap with hairy scales. Tolerates wet soil; also thrives where soil is well drained.

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