Virginia Tech Dendrology

water oak Fagaceae Quercus nigra L. Listen to the Latin symbol: QUNI
Leaf: Alternate, simple, 2 to 4 inches long and extremely variable in shape (from spatulate to lanceolate), may be 0 to 5 lobed, margins may be entire or bristle-tipped, both surfaces are glabrous, but axillary tufts may be present below.
Flower: Species is monoecious; male flowers borne on catkins; female flowers borne on spikes, appearing with the leaves.
Fruit: Acorns are 1/2 inch long, very dark in color, and 1/3 covered by a flattened cap with appressed scales, maturing in fall of the second year.
Twig: Slender, red-brown; buds short, sharp-pointed, angular, red-brown, multiple at the tip.
Bark: Dark and quite tight, smooth when young and later with irregular rough patches; much later developing wide, scaly ridges.
Form: A medium sized tree with a slender bole and rounded crown with ascending branches.
Looks like: willow oak - laurel oak - shingle oak - Darlington oak
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Quercus nigra is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting water oak.
More Information: Fall Color - Landowner Factsheet
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson