The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section IV. Deciduous Ornamental Trees

The White oak. Quercus alba.

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The White oak. (Quercus alba.) This is one of the most common of the American oaks, being very generally distributed over the country, from Canada to the southern states. In good strong soils it forms a tree 70 or 80 feet high, with wide extending branches; but its growth depends much upon this circumstance. It may readily be known even in winter by its whitish bark, and by the dry and withered leaves which often hang upon this species through the whole of that season. The leaves are about four inches wide and six in length, divided uniformly into rounded lobes without points; these lobes are deeper in damp soils. When the leaves first unfold in the spring they are downy beneath, but when fully grown they are quite smooth, and pale green on the upper surface and whitish or glaucous below. The acorn is oval and the cup somewhat flattened at the base. This is the most valuable of all our native oaks, immense quantities of the timber being used for various purposes in building; and staves of the white oak for barrels are in universal use throughout the Union. The great occasional size and fine form of this tree, in some natural situations, prove how noble an object it would become when allowed to expand in full vigor and majesty in the open air and light of the park. It more nearly approaches the English oak in appearance than any other American species.