Black oak (Quercus velutina) is a member of the red oak group and generally grows to 50-60 feet at maturity. It grows best on moist, rich, well-drained soils, but it is often found on poor, dry, sandy or heavy glacial clay hillsides. Good crops of acorns provide wildlife with food. The black oak's common name refers to its nearly black bark. This oak's inner bark, however, is yellow or deep orange and is used to make a yellow dye called quercitron. Velutina (it's botanical name), is derived from the Latin word for fleece, wool or down, vellus, which refers to this species' velvety winter buds and young foliage. In early spring, velvety red leaves emerge from the velvety winter buds. The bicolored, mature leaves contrast nicely with unique black, furrowed bark. Fall foliage is a striking orange or red. These are generally difficult to find in nurseries because of their long tap root.