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Black Oak (Quercus velutina)

Black Oak Tree Black Oak is a common and important tree in the deciduous forests of our area, as reflected in the name of the ridge on which the City of Oak Ridge is built. Its range extends throughout much of the Eastern and Midwestern US. Black Oak leaves are quite variable and often difficult to differentiate from other members of the red oak group, such as Northern Red Oak. The leaves are from 4-10 in. long with 7-9 bristle-tipped lobes. Their upper surface is shiny green, while the lower is a paler green. Shade leaves have relatively shallow lobes, while sun leaves are more deeply lobed. As fall progresses, the leaves turn yellow to bronze and then red. Seeds mature over a two-year period, germinating in the spring after they fall. Seeds are an important food for wildlife such as squirrels, deer, and turkey.

Black Oak Bark Black  Oak Leaf The smooth, gray bark of young trees becomes dark gray to black with deep furrows as it matures. The grayish pubescent terminal buds tend to be square in cross section. The inner bark is orange to yellow in color ("pumpkin" color), which is a diagnostic feature for identifying Black Oak. A scaly cap covers 1/3 to 1/2 of the brown acorn at maturity.

Black Oak Buds Black Oak Acorn Although the seeds contain bitter tannins, these can be leached with water. The powdered acorns have been used as a thickening for stews and as a flour. Acorns have also been roasted as a substitute for coffee. The dense wood is used for furniture, flooring, railroad ties, rough lumber, and fuel.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: