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Quercus phellos Plant of Merit

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Kemper Code:  A191

Common Name: willow oak
Zone: 5 to 9
Plant Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Missouri Native: Yes
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Height: 40 to 75 feet
Spread: 25 to 50 feet
Bloom Time: April  
Bloom Color: Yellow-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low


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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Prefers moist well-drained loams, but adapts to a wide range of soil conditions including clays with somewhat poor drainage. Generally tolerant of urban pollution. Trees or seeds for the St. Louis area should come from northern sources because there is some question as to the winter hardiness of this tree throughout USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Willow oak is a medium to large, deciduous oak tree of the red oak group that is noted for its oak shape, willow-like leaves and relatively fast growth rate. It is native to the Southeastern United States, typically being found in moist bottomland soils. In Missouri, it is usually found in wet or low woods bordering swamps, streams and canals in a few counties in the far southeastern portion of the state (Steyermark). Willow oak typically grows 40-75 tall with an oval to rounded crown, but may reach 100 in ideal conditions. Smooth-edged, bristle-tipped, narrow, green leaves (to 5 long and 1 wide) are willow-like. Leaves turn an undistinguished yellow-brown or dull gold in fall. Fruits are rounded acorn cups (to 1/2 long). Acorns can be an important source of food for wildlife. Insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear in spring (April) as the leaves emerge. Dark, irregularly-furrowed trunks (gray to dark gray-brown) develop on mature trees.

Problems: Click for detailed list of pests and problems.

Oaks are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, willow oak is generally considered to have good resistance to pests and to be a low-maintenance, long-lived tree.

Uses:

A medium to large shade tree for large lawns, along streets or in parks. Also effective along ponds or water gardens.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011


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