Scientific name: Quercus macrocarpa
A large tree with a broad crown and stout spreading branches. Generally only found in moist soil of bottomlands and along streams. Produces the largest acorns of all native oaks in the U.S. Acorns are enclosed in a deep cup with the upper scales forming a fringed border. The species name “macrocarpa” means large fruit. The leaves, reaching 12-inches in length, are among the largest of the oaks.
Description: A very hardy, drought-resistant, long-lived tree (sometimes a shrub) in the white oak family, that is adapted to a wide range of soils. Native to the eastern United States. Has very large acorns, stout trunk, and broad, rounded, open crown of stout, often crooked, spreading branches.
Bur Oak is the northernmost New World oak. In the West, it is a pioneer tree, bordering and invading the prairie grassland. This tap-rooted species can be expected to grow slowly during the first 3 years after planting; however, after the taproot is established, the growth rate is quite similar to other deciduous trees.
Height: In favorable soils, in excess of 40 feet
Leaves: 4-10″ long, 2-5″ wide. Thick, dark green, alternate, simple leaf with 5-9 rounded lobes separated about half way by a pair of particularly deep sinuses. Yellow-brown in autumn.
Fruit: The acorns of this species, distinguished by very deep-fringed cups, are the largest of all native oaks. The common name describes the cup of the acorn, which slightly resembles the spiny bur of Chestnut. The meat is sweet and mature in first season. Cups are hairless inside. Heavy crops at 3 to 5 year intervals.
Elevation: 4000′ to 8000′
Hardiness zones: 4 to 9
Water Needs: 30 inch equivalent. In lower precipitation zones, it must receive supplemental water.
Soils: Prefers rich, bottomland soils, but tolerates a wide range of soils.
Habitat: From dry uplands on limestone and gravelly ridges, sandy plains and loamy slopes to moist flood plains of streams.
Uses: Is an excellent tree for shade, ornament, shelterbelts and windbreaks (multi-row).
Wildlife: Bur oak constitutes a good staple food for a wide variety of birds and animals. Both mule and whitetail deer browse on the twigs, foliage, and acorns. Game birds utilizing the acorns are wild turkey, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, and wood duck.
Advantages: A durable tree that tolerates urban stresses, wet or dry soils, acid or alkaline.
Management & Care: No known serious insect or disease problems. Likes ample space and full sun; does not do well in shade.