Quercus bicolor

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Quercus bicolor - Swamp White Oak
Common name: Swamp White Oak
Family: Fagaceae (Beech)
Distribution: SE Canada to NC and E USA
Habitat: River bottomlands, depressions, along streamsides, swamp borders, moist peaty flats
Hardiness: -40 - 20 F
Life form: Deciduous tree
Bloom Time: April to May
Attracts: Birds, butterflies
Bloom characteristics: Flowers are seperate male and female catkins.
Structure: Oval, irregular
Average height: 50-60'
Bark characteristics: Dark gray, scaly or flat-ridged, peels in large curls.
Fall color: Red, yellow
Fruit characteristics: Rounded acorn with a fringed cap that covers a third to half of the acorn. Usually grow in pairs. .5-1" long.
Foliage characteristics: Simple, alternate, obovate leaves with 5-10 rounded lobes and white hairs on leaf undersides. 4-8" long.
Ethnobotanical uses: Some Native Americans and pioneers ate the acorns of this tree raw or cooked. The acorns can be grounds into powder and used as a thickener in food or mixed with other ingredients to make bread. Roasted acorns have also been used as a coffee substitute. Bitterness of acorns is caused by tannins, which can be removed by leachinging under running water. Mulch made of the dead leaves of this tree can repel slugs, grubs, and insects.
Medicinal/pharmaceutical: Oak galls were used by some Native Americans to treat hemorrhages, chronic diarrhea, and dysentery. Parts of this oak were also used to treat cholera, broken bones, and consumption.
Description: The swamp white oak is a durable, native tree which enjoys swampy growing conditions. Its scientific name of “bicolor” refers to the leaves, which are green above, and silvery white beneath.
This oak is listed as Threatened in Maine.
Links: Missouri Botanical Garden Plant FinderUniversity of Connecticut Plant DatabaseUSDA Natural Resources Conservation Service


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