This oak is commonly found in the bottomlands or swampy areas. It goes by other names, including possum oak and spotted oak. The Water Oak is monoecious – staminate flowers, catkins form on previous year's growth and the pistillate blooms on current season's growth. The acorn forms as a scab the first year and matures the second. It takes about 20 years for the tree to produce its fruit.
A mature tree can reach heights of 120+ feet and has a spread of about 50- 60 feet. It is a fast growing tree. The Water Oak is a shorted lived tree, 60- 80 compared to other oaks, 100-600+years.
It has been used in the timber industry as well as for firewood. Planted widely in the south for its shade. The acorns are eaten by squirrels and other wildlife. It is a native tree and it ranges from zones 6-10.
The leaves are spatulate to lanceolate and having 0- 5 lobes. When I first saw this tree and its unusual leaf I was in South Carolina on our property. I asked our landscaper what kind of tree it was. He said it was a Water Oak and that it has 'spoon shaped leaves'. Great way to remember that- thanks Wyatt! The bark is dark and smooth on younger trees and develops ridges as it ages. The fall leaf color is yellow and quite showy. Once our trees start turning I will add the fall photos to each posting. Be sure to check back to previous posts.
Here are some of the resources I used for this article.
Fall color starting-
|From swamp chestnut oak swamp white oak Learning Garden|