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TREES & plants

Shingle oak

Summer foliage of shingle oak.

Shingle oak is native to Illinois and to part of the Chicago region. This tree is not easily recognized as an oak due to an atypical, unlobed leaf. It is not used as commonly as other oak species, but would be valuable as a parkway tree.

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.

Botanical name: 
Quercus imbricaria
All Common Names: 
shingle oak, laurel oak, small-leaved oak
Family (English): 
Beech
Family (Botanic): 
Fagaceae
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, 
  • Restricted sites
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
50-60 feet
Mature Width: 
50-60 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval, 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Browsers, 
  • Game birds, 
  • Game mammals, 
  • Migrant birds, 
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Although it has a taproot, shingle oak can be easier to transplant than some oaks.
Fairly salt tolerant.
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.

Shingle Oak (Quercus imbricaria)Acorn of shingle oakphoto: John Hagstrom

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 7

Bark color and texture 

Light gray; smooth when young, maturing into shallow furrows.

 

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves; oblong and unlobed, with one bristle at the tip of the leaf; up to 6 inches long.
Dark green in summer, changing to yellow-brown to russet  in fall.  Leaves persisting through the entire winter.

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 2/3 inch long topped with a thin cap enclosing the top 1/3 of the nut.

Quercus imbricaria or Shingle oak