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This majestic, picturesque tree displays bold texture with its massive, deeply furrowed trunk and rugged limbs, lustrous, fiddle-shaped leaves and huge acorns—the largest of any North American oak--with whimsically fringed caps (another common name is mosscup oak).  Typically growing 70-90 feet tall, it needs a minimum of six hours of sun and is very adaptable to a wide range of moisture levels and soil types.  One of the most picturesque of the oak species, its dense, spreading canopy and ability to tolerate pollution and heat stress make it an ideal choice for parks and large, urban landscapes.  Like all oaks, it hosts over 450 Lepidoptera larvae and has exceptional wildlife value. 


Bur oak’s durability is well known in the Midwestern and Great Plains states where, having survived prairie fires and long droughts, it remains interspersed on the open plains. In pioneer days, it was a boon to travelers who needed new wagon tongues, wheel hubs, or spokes.  A bur oak known as the Council Oak in Sioux City, Iowa, is so named because Lewis and Clark held council with Native Americans under its 150-year-old branches.  The world’s largest bur oak in Paris, Kentucky, stands 96 feet tall with a diameter of 8 ½ feet.


This tree is found throughout Ohio--except in the southeastern part of the state--on prairies, in open woods, on sandy ridges, and along stream edges. Use as a shade tree and for specimen plantings in parks, spacious yards, and other large areas.  


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 70-90’ tall and just as wide.  In ideal conditions, it may grow 160’ tall.


Prefers full sun but tolerates part sun during early years of growth.


Grows well in acidic, alkaline, loamy, sandy, well-drained, wet, and clay soils. While it prefers moderate moisture, it tolerates drought and challenging conditions.


Greenish male catkins appear in spring to fertilize tiny female flowers.  Large acorns, which mature in one season, have fringed caps that cover half the nut. 


Leaves are 3-6” long, green and glossy, with variably shaped lobed margins.  Fall color is golden to yellow-brown.


Bark is medium gray with long, deeply fissured vertical ridges.  Branchlets are sometimes corky.


Wildlife Value:

Host plant to 477 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including the mourning cloak butterfly (pictured here), variable oakleaf caterpillar moth, and eight specialist moths.  The nuts are a preferred food for wood ducks, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, rabbits, mice, squirrels, and other rodents.  Many species of arthropods form galls on the leaves and twigs. Deer and porcupines eat the leaves, twigs, and bark. Over 600 species of insects specialize on oak trees, supporting a broad array of wildlife diversity that feed on them.


Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Native Americans used the astringent bark to treat wounds, sores, rashes, and diarrhea. 


Bur oak acorns are one of the lowest in tannins, but should still be leached in water before being eaten.  Gather ripe brown nuts from September to October. 


The wood, which is durable and commercially valuable, is used for flooring, fence posts, cabinets, and barrels. 

Oak, Bur, Quercus macrocarpa

Excluding Sales Tax
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