The handsome Willow Oak is fast-growing and hardy, sporting a dense and spreading canopy that makes it extremely attractive as a shade tree. Given its strength, size, and aesthetically pleasing appearance, this sun-loving species is widespread throughout the nation and is frequently spotted along streets and parks. Tolerant of pollution and drought, the Willow Oak can be easily transplanted and is not particularly susceptible to any common pests or diseases, making it a gratifyingly hassle-free and low-maintenance option.
The Willow Oak—scientifically classified as Quercus Phellos and a member of the Fagaceae family—is native to the eastern and central United States. It can be found from Long Island to Florida and from Missouri to eastern Texas, typically situated in lowland floodplains or flanking streams and rivers. Given a 5-9 hardiness rating, the Willow Oak flourishes with full sun and medium to wet well-drained soil. The tree’s oval or rounded crown rears up (typically growing two feet per year) to reach 40-75ft. with an average spread (at first conic, but then rounding out as it grows) of 35-50ft.
Like most other oaks, the Willow Oak’s bark is ridged and furrowed. The tree produces yellow-green catkins that bloom in April and shallow-cupped acorns. Unlike other oaks, however, the Willow Oak’s acorns are produced fairly soon in its lifespan (around the 15 year mark) and its leaves are uncharacteristically long and tapering. Shaped like willow leaves, these leaves stretch out 5-12cm, with smooth and unlobed margins. Narrow and dark green in color during the spring and summer, this foliage transforms into lovely autumnal shades of orange, gold, and russet-red before being shed in the winter.
The Willow Oak is no stranger to animals; its acorns attract a variety of wildlife, including whitetail deer, quail, wild turkeys, and several species of songbirds. Since it was first scientifically observed in 1723, the Willow Oak’s wood has also been extremely useful and has good commercial value. It has been used to create bar tops, wagon axles, stairs, balustrades, pulpits, bedsteads, and barrels; it has even served for pulp and paper production as well as regular lumber.
Photos Copyright © Horticopia, Inc. 2017
Photos Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.org
This Tree's Zone: 5 to 9
Your Growing Zone:
|Fall Foliage||Orange-gold to yellow|
|Shape||Oval to rounded crown|
|Size||40 to 75 feet|
|Spread||35 to 50 feet|