Swamp white oak is a striking tree with attractive peeling bark, especially on young trees. The lustrous, lobed leaves have a two-tone appearance, dark green on top with a silvery-white underside. Fall color is an orange-gold to yellow in mid-autumn. An excellent shade tree for any landscape.
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.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars and related hybrids.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Fall color
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Game mammals,
- Migrant birds,
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
One of the easiest oaks to transplant and more tolerant of poor drainage than other oaks.
Avoid high pH soils or plants may develop chlorotic (yellowing ) leaves.
Tolerant of salt, drought and heat.
Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.
Disease, pests, and problems
Anthracnose, occasional powdery mildew, chlorois in high pH soils, and insect galls.
Disease, pests, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Bark color and texture
Mature bark is a dark gray-brown with blocky ridges,. Young trees develop a flaky, peeling bark that reveals an orange inner bark.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, simple, rounded to coarsely lobed leaves with variable wavy margins. Dark green above with silvery-white underside. Leaves turn to golden or orange brown in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Male flowers hang in clusters of catkins.
Female flowers are inconspicuous, tiny spikes in leaf axils.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Acorns are 1 inch long and enclosed halfway with a warty cap. The cap often remains attached to a stalk (peduncle) once the fruit is ripe and falls from the tree.
“This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."
American Dream® (Quercus bicolor 'JFS-KW12'): Good resistance to anthracnose and powdery mildew. This cultivar has a broadly pyramidal shape and dark green foliage changint to yellow brown in fall.
Related hybrids (between Quercus bicolor and Quercus robur 'Fastigiata)
Kindred Spirit® Ware's Oak (Quercus x warei 'Nadler'): A columnar cultivar, growing 40 feet high by 6 feet wide; red-orange fall color. Resistant to drought and powdery mildew.
Regal Prince® Ware's Oak (Quercus x warei 'Long'): Narrow habit (45 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide); excellent resistance to borers and powdery mildew. Yellow fall color.