White Oak Tree
Quercus alba L.

White Oak Tree
Source Reference #1


The most popular of North America’s oaks is probably the white oak. It grows to heights of 60-80 feet, with branches spreading as much as 100 feet (2). White Oak are distinguished from other oaks by their light gray, platy bark. The glossy, deep green leaves change to a purple-red or deep wine in fall. An average white oak grows to about one hundred feet tall and can live to be 350 to 400 years old. The white oak tree found here at Nazareth College, also known as the "Indian Council Oak", is one of the largest trees found on campus. With a circumference over 15 feet, and a branch spread of 90 feet, this white oak is a magnificent specimen.


The giant white oak can be found near the Admissions house, surrounded by other trees. There is a path off to right of the house that leads you to the oak tree, which is very hard to miss!

Native Habitat
White Oak Tree Bark

Source Reference #6

The white oak is native to to the eastern half of the United States (2).

Optimal Growing Conditions

White oaks prefer rich, well-drained soil and they grow best on uplands, slopes, and terraces. The geographic range of white oak extends from Maine to Minnesota, south to eastern Texas and northern Florida (2).

Economic Importance

White oaks produce prime hardwood lumber with a fine, almost watertight grain, excellent for barrel staves. The close-grained, strong wood is useful and valuable. Its uses are many, including furniture, heavy construction, interior finish, pallets, and flooring. About three-fourths of the timber sold nationally under the name of oak is white oak (3).

Ethnobotanical and Cultural Information

Oak Acorn Leaves

Source Reference #3

The Indians and early settlers often used white oak acorns for food after boiling and soaking out the tannic acid (3).

Fascinating Facts

  • Though most oaks boast durable wood, it was wood from the white oak that was used to build the famous battleship U.S.S. Constitution. This hero of the Revolutionary War was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” because cannonballs were rumored to bounce off its sides (4).
  • The white oak is the state tree for Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland (5).
  • The oak tree here on campus is known as the "Indian Council Oak" because legend has it that American Indians living in the area met in councils under the shade of this tree. The "Indian Council Oak" is thought to be over 200 years old.

    Source Reference #3

Other Interesting Sites

Trees of Eastern North American Forests
Ohio's Trees
Maryland State Tree


1. http://www.il-st-acad-sci.org///trees/whiteoak.html

2. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/quealb/

3. http://www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/ODNR/Education/ohiotrees/oakwhite.htm

4. http://www.ussconstitution.navy.mil/

5. http://www.state-tree.com/

6. http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/01glance/symbols/html/tree.htm

Created by:  Nicole Onusz

 Edited by Justin Montemarano


Tree Walk Home Page
Nazareth College Home Page | Biology Department

  Dr. Beverly Brown  

  Nazareth College of Rochester        

  Page last edited: 04/24/2002

Maintained by Sara O'Brien