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Featured Plant Of The Month

There is always something in bloom at the Arboretum! Use our Plants Library to plan a photo shoot or to choose one of the trails to walk. Learn more about the plants at the Arboretum by visiting our Previously Featured Plants list and our Special Seasonal Featured Plants page.


White Oak (Quercus alba)

White Oak Acorns White Oak Tree White Oak Leaf

White Oak, a dominant tree of the eastern deciduous forest, is found along many of the Arboretum trails and in the Oak Collection near the Program Shelter and Auditorium. It grows to heights of 100ft, with a canopy spread that may be 50-80ft wide. Its light green leaves have 7-9 rounded lobes and are from 4-7 in. long. The broadly oval buds are reddish brown and have no pubescence. The light-gray bark is typically divided into long broad scaly plates or ridges. White Oak provides important food and cover for many birds and mammals. Large crops of acorns are produced periodically a single tree may produce 10,000 to over 20,000 acorns. The acorns have shallow caps that are smooth underneath. They do not exhibit dormancy but germinate shortly after they fall to the ground with the root penetrating the soil in the fall, but the shoot not developing until the following spring. Monarch butterflies use trees such as oaks, conifers, maples, pecans, and willows as roosting sites on their migration south in the fall. Although no observations of Monarch butterflies roosting at the Arboretum have been recorded, the diversity of trees near the Auditorium and Program Shelter could attract them. White Oak ranges from Maine and adjacent Canada south to northern Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, and west to Minnesota and Texas. An important lumber tree, it is used for furniture, whiskey barrel staves, and many other purposes.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu