Black Oak
Quercus velutina
Family Fagaceae

* Leaves moderately lobed. Lobes sharply pointed, hairy beneath and glossy above. 4-10". Red oak leaves are similar but smooth beneath.
* Twigs hairless, but buds covered in gray hairs.
* Acorn cups gray-hairy, bowl-shaped, with rough edges and fringe-like scales, covering half of the elliptical acorn.
* Bark dark, not shiny, with a block pattern. When scratched, the bark of the twigs is yellow or orange.
* Height: 70-80'.

Natural History:
* Habitat: Woods, dry to mesic soils.
* Range: Southeastern Canada and northeastern United States.
* Native.

* "Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir."
-John Keats, 1795-1821

* Oak wood is prized for firewood because it burns slowly, cleanly, and hot. It also resists rot, making it popular with fence-builders. In fact, our own Abe Lincoln probably split many oaks into fence posts.

* Before the production of modern dyes, weavers and tanners produced a yellow dye from the bark of black oak. In the following excerpt from his essay Walking, published in Atlantic Magazine in 1862, Henry David Thoreau describes the "tanning" of human minds that results when man lives among wilderness trees:
"To preserve wild animals implies generally the creation of a forest for them to dwell in or resort to. So it is with man. A hundred yeras ago they sold bark in our streets peeled from our own woods. In the very aspect of those primitive and rugged trees there was, methinks, a tanning principle which hardened and consolidated the fibres of men's thoughts."

* It is difficult to distinguish between black and red oaks; check out the red oak page for some tips on telling these majestic tree apart!


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008