This tree is 60-110' at maturity, forming a relatively long trunk about
2½-6' across and a rounded crown. Trees that are grown in open areas
tend to have stouter trunks and broader crowns than those
that are found in heavily forested areas. The trunk bark of mature
trees is gray or brownish gray with shallow furrows and short scaly
ridges. The bark of large branches is similar, but more scaly and
flaky, while smaller branches are more smooth. Twigs are gray, smooth,
and glabrous, while young shoots are pale green and densely
pubescent. Alternate leaves occur along the twigs and young shoots.
These leaves are about 5-10" long and 3-7" across, consisting of 2-3
pairs of lateral primary lobes and a terminal lobe. These lobes
are moderately deep, and they are often subdivided into 2-3
shallow secondary lobes, providing them with a blocky-angular
appearance. The tips of the lobes are pointed, while the sinuses
between the lobes are concave (rather than sharply indented). The base
of each leaf is usually broadly wedge-shaped, rather than rounded. The
upper leaf surface is dark green and glabrous, while the lower leaf
surface is grayish white and densely covered with fine stellate hairs.
The petioles are 1½-3" long and pubescent.
Cherrybark Oak is
monoecious, forming male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers in
separate locations on the same tree. The male flowers are produced in
pendulous catkins about 3-6" long. Each male flower is very
small (about 3 mm. or 1/8" across), consisting of several stamens that
are partially enclosed by a ciliate calyx with multiple lobes. The
central stalk of
each catkin is hairy. The female flowers are produced in
small clusters on a short spike less than ¾" long. Each
female flower is also very small (about 3 mm. or 1/8" across),
consisting of an ovoid ovary with 3 stigmata that is largely enclosed
by a hairy calyx. The blooming period occurs
during mid-spring for 1-2 weeks. The flowers are cross-pollinated by
the wind. Afterwards, fertile female flowers develop into acorns up to
15 mm. (5/8") long that become mature the following year during the
fall (2-year development cycle). Each acorn has a moderately shallow
cup (extending up to one-third of its length) that is attached to the
apex of the nut. The cup is minutely pubescent.
preference is full sun, moist conditions, and loamy soil. Occasional
flooding is tolerated during the winter and spring, otherwise standing
water is harmful to the health and development of this tree. Individual
trees can live up to 300 years. Acorn production begins at about the
age of 25. This tree is hardy to about Zone 6 or 7.
The native Cherrybark Oak is occasional in
while in the rest of the state it is absent (see Distribution
range extends southward and eastward into a large area of southeastern
United States. Habitats consist of bottomland woodlands, floodplain
woodlands, areas along rivers and streams, and well-drained hammocks
within swamps. Cherrybark Oak occurs with other moisture-loving
deciduous trees, sometimes becoming co-dominant with Quercus
(Pin Oak). In the southeastern United States, it
is sometimes cultivated as a street tree.
feed on the leaves, wood, sap, and other parts of this tree. The
Cherrybark Oak can be considered a preferred host to the following
. Other insect feeders include aphids,
treehoppers, lace bugs,
plant bugs, leaf beetles, weevils, long-horned beetles, gall wasps,
walkingsticks, and the caterpillars of moths, butterflies, and
skippers. More specific information about these insects can be found in
the following tables: Wood-Boring Beetle Table
and Insect Table
attract woodpeckers, warblers, flycatchers, thrushes, and other
insectivorous birds to oak trees.
The small acorns of Cherrybark Oak
are an important source of food to such birds as the Wood Duck, Wild
Turkey, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Red-Headed Woodpecker,
Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Tufted Titmouse. The acorns are also a
source of food to many mammals, including the Black Bear, Raccoon,
White-Tailed Deer, Gray Squirrel, Fox Squirrel, and White-Footed Mouse.
Tree squirrels and Blue Jays, in particular, play a key role in
dispersing these acorns to new locations. The foliage and twigs of
oaks are occasionally browsed by White-Tailed Deer. The Summer Tanager,
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Parula, Yellow-Throated Vireo,
Swainson's Hawk, and other birds construct their nests in oak trees.
Overall, the value of these trees to wildlife is high.
A bottomland woodland at the Heron Pond Nature
Preserve in southern Illinois.
Cherrybark Oak has often been regarded as a variety of Spanish Oak
, but it is now
considered a distinct species of oak. These two oaks can be
distinguished primarily by the appearance of their leaves: Spanish Oak
has leaves with narrow rounded bases (rather than wedge-shaped bases)
and its lateral lobes often have simple acute tips because they are
less likely to be divided into shallow secondary lobes. This latter oak
also prefers drier habitats than Cherrybark Oak. With the exception of
the Spanish Oak, Cherrybark Oak can be distinguished from other Quercus
in the Red Oak group by the the dense fine pubescence
on its leaf
undersides. Other species in the Red Oak group have either glabrous
undersides or their pubescence is restricted to the the junctions of
major veins on their leaf undersides. The wood of Cherrybark Oak is
strong, heavy, and hard; it is also relatively free from knots because
of the self-pruning characteristic of this tree. As a result, the wood
is highly regarded for its use in making furniture, cabinets, veneer,
and interior finish. Many fungi form symbiotic relationships with the
roots of oak trees (e.g., many mushrooms), promoting the health of
these trees. Other fungi are parasitic on the wood, helping to return
its nutrients to the ecological system. See the Fungus Table
list of fungal species that associate with oak trees.