Black oak

A black oak leaf.

Botanical name:

Quercus velutina

Family (English):

Beech

All Common Names:

black oak

Family (Botanic):

Fagaceae

Planting Considerations:

  • May be difficult to find in nurseries,
  • Messy fruit/plant parts

Season of Interest:

  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Irregular,
  • Round

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Dry soil

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Acid Soils:

  • Prefers

Transplants Well:

  • Yes

Alkaline Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Wildlife:

  • Game birds,
  • Game mammals,
  • Migrant birds,
  • Small mammals

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Black oak can be difficult to transplant due to a deep taproot.
Though tolerant of dry sites, this species cannot withstand severe drought.
Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.

Disease, pests, and problems

Oak wilt is a potential disease problem.
Insect pests include scale and two-lined chestnut borer.
Galls caused by mites or insects are common, but not harmful.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 6

Native to the Chicago region.  Commonly found in dry sites.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is ridged and furrowed.  Very dark to almost black at maturity.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves with moderately deep sinuses and bristle-tipped lobes; up to 10 inches long.
Dark green in summer, changing to yellow or yellow-brown in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male flowers in dangling catkins; female flowers smaller and held close to the stem.  Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Acorns, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long topped with a slightly fringed cap.  Borne singly or in pairs.

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Black oak, a native of the Chicago region, could be used as a parkway or street tree. Fall color is yellow to yellow-brown. This species is not offered in commerce as often as other oak species.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree

Foliage:

  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

50-60 feet

Mature Width:

40-70 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Location of Quercus velutina (Black oak) at the Arboretum