Long-living, sturdy, shady, and vibrant, the Overcup Oak has been acknowledged as an outstanding urban street tree and shade tree. It has recently gained attention and popularity as a domineering specimen for home landscapes as well. With its graceful elliptic leaves and colorful, thick autumn foliage, this species is also commended as a decorative tree. Given the tree’s hardy tolerance for flooding, poorly drained soils, and cold temperatures, the Overcup Oak is an extremely popular choice for wetland ecosystems.
Sometimes called “Swamp Post Oak”, “Swamp White Oak”, or “Water White Oak”, the Overcup Oak is, as its names imply, a wetland-favoring member of the white oak subgroup belonging to the Fagaceae family. Quercus Lyrata is native to lowland wetlands of the south central and eastern United States; cultivated in a similar light, it is often planted to improve soil erosion, to provide a habitat and food source for a rich variety of wetland wildlife, and for bottomland restoration.
A mature Overcup Oak can optimally grow up to 50-80 ft. with an irregular or rounded crown; its span reaches an approximate 35-50 ft. This specimen favors medium to wet, well-drained soils and prefers access to fun sun; it has a 6-9 hardiness zone rating. The Overcup Oak’s deciduous foliage is dark green, with alternate and variably structured leaves that are usually wedge-shaped and intensely lobed. Its monoecious catkins bloom from April to May, later giving way to cap-enclosed acorns (from which this tree’s name was derived) that are known to attract a large spectrum of wildlife such as deer, wild hogs, ducks, and squirrels.
These acorns are perhaps the Overcup Oak’s most obvious identifier as a specimen, as they are almost completely covered by their knobby light-brown cups (thus the name!). In the autumn, the Overcup Oak’s foliage transitions to opulent shades of golden-brown, although some trees are known to feature pigments of copper and red. These add much-needed and delightful splashes of color to the oak’s backdrop of smooth gray-brown bark.
Pictures Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Photos Copyright © Horticopia, Inc. 2017
This Tree's Zone: 6 to 9
Your Growing Zone:
|Bloom Time||April to May|
|Shape||Irregular to round|
|Size||50 to 80 feet|
|Spread||35 to 50 feet|