Quercus nigra. WATER OAK. Southeastern US.
FAGACEAE (Oak or beech family)

A 40-foot specimen of this often scrubby oak grows about 70 yards from the intersection of Campus Drive East and Galvez Street, 12 feet from the Frost Amphitheater perimeter fence and just west of the entry gates. It’s naturally found in inhospitable conditions but grows larger in good conditions, as this example attests. The triangular leaves are variable, often elongated to 6 inches, with three lobes at the tip. The tree was initially identified as Quercus marilandica, BLACKJACK OAK. This identification was questioned.

Douglas Goldman, Harvard University Herbaria, wrote 6/21/09:

In agreement with the comment from David Muffly I think
this tree is probably Quercus nigra, the water oak.  It is definitely not
Quercus marilandica.  The leaves and twigs are far too narrow and the leaf
texture is too thin to be Quercus marilandica.  Quercus nigra have small acorns
and usually hold some leaves through the winter, so from Muffly's description
this tree on Stanford's campus would fit the description of this species.

I'll admit that the leaves shown in the image are a bit strange for Q.
too, as they are consistently sharply 3-lobed, unlike the typically
round-lobed to unlobed leaves of this species.  Quercus nigra usually produces
sharply lobed leaves on rapidly growing shoots, typically from where there has
been trunk or stem damage, so perhaps the leaves shown online come from such a
shoot.  However, if this tree only has leaves like this then perhaps it is a
hybrid, possibly with Q. falcata or maybe even with Q. marilandica.

Arborist David Muffly <davemuffly@yahoo.com> writes:

my identification . . . differs from what is in the latest Trees of Stanford book. But I have looked at other Q. nigra around the state and talked with oak nurserymen and am quite confident this is an accurate identification. It also agrees with the i.d. made independently by one of your staff a few years ago . . . The tree is roughly 35'x35'. It is classed as a semi-evergreen, which in this case indicates it shows fall color, and drops its leaves, later than any local deciduous tree, and then keeps a few green leaves in the lower canopy throughout the winter. The leaves themselves are thick, glossy, "wedge"-shaped, and turn a reasonable yellow/orange. In recent years this tree has been observed to produce a few acorns, which are quite small and take two years to ripen. The area immediately around the tree is notorious for being a wet spot on the campus - water is often seen sitting near the tree during rainy winters. This natural supplemental water may help explain the good growth of this particular tree (native to the southeastern U.S.) in what appears to be an otherwise dry and unirrigated location . . .

Other campus oaks: Quercus -- Oak Notes | Quercus agrifolia | Quercus cerris | Quercus chrysolepis | Quercus coccifera calliprinos | Quercus coccinea | Quercus diversifolia | Quercus douglasii | Quercus engelmannii | Quercus greggii | Quercus ilex | Quercus kelloggii | Quercus lobata | Quercus macrocarpa | Quercus marilandica | Quercus mexicana | Quercus palustris | Quercus parvula shreveii | Quercus robur | Quercus rubra | Quercus suber | Quercus virginiana | Quercus wislizeni

Illustrations: branchlet | oak gallery


Name derivation, genus | species Latin name | Latin name for the oak and its wood

Related material:

Botanical name index | Common name index | Family
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