Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Southern Red Oak
Quercus falcata Michx.
- Family: Beech (Fagaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: The lower surface of the leaves is covered by tiny, star-shaped hairs.
The terminal lobe of the leaves is often curved.
- Habitat: Moist or dry woods.
- Habit: Large tree up to 80 feet tall, with a trunk diameter up to 4 feet; crown broadly rounded, with stiff, stout, spreading branches; bark dark brown to nearly black, shallowly furrowed.
- Twigs: Reddish brown to gray, smooth or nearly so at maturity; leaf scars alternate but clustered near the tip, half-round, slightly elevated, with several bundle traces.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, broadly rounded at the base, 3- to 5-lobed, the terminal lobe usually long, narrow, and strongly curved, all lobes bristle-tipped, up to 8 inches long, up to 6 inches wide, green on the upper surface, pale and finely hairy on the lower surface with star-shaped hairs; leaf stalks up to 2 1/2 inches long, usually hairy.
- Flowers: Male and female borne separately but on the same tree, appearing when the leaves begin to unfold, minute, the male in slender, drooping, densely hairy spikes, the female few in a rusty-hairy cluster.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 1.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior; style dark reddish brown.
- Fruits: Acorn usually solitary, with or without a short stalk, the nut spherical or ellipsoid, up to 1/2 inch long, orange-brown, the cup covering only up to 1/3 of the nut, with hairy, reddish brown scales.
- Notes: The wood is used for fence posts, fuel, and in general construction. The leaves are variable in the number of lobes. A variety of this species, Q. falcata var. pagodaefolia, is recognized by its leaf apices which are shorter and not curved and by the bases that are angled and not rounded. This variety occurs in wetter sites. Some authors refer to this variety as a separate species (Q. pagoda).
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