Plants and People Project

Oaks - Quercus

The inner bark of white oak was used by the Potawatomi Indians to make a brown dye. Native Americans made a flour from these acorns. PA DCNR

They used the oak wood for many purposes. Some Indians used oak wood splints to weave baskets.

Many people have planted these trees in their yards for shade and because of their beauty. Strong oak wood is also prized for flooring and furniture.

White oak is sometimes called "Stave Oak" because the wood is outstanding in making staves – the thin slats of wood forming the sides of barrels or buckets used for making whiskey and other liquids.

In colonial times, the wood was important in shipbuilding. "Old Ironsides", the USS Constitution was made using white oak lumber. PA DCNR

The acorns develop during the summer and are usually ripe early to mid-autumn. Unlike other oaks, white oak acorns ripen in one year. Many animals eat acorns including: deer, bear, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, mallards, wild turkey, and crows. Mast source

Blue Jays are credited with planting oak trees as they cache the acorns by tucking them underground. IHRMP Oak Fact sheet

Animals also use the trees for shelter and nesting sites to raise their young. Insects are attracted to the nectar of the flowers.

"The white oak is most famous for its strength. In Greco Roman times, oaks were symbolic of strength and power and believed to be held as sacred by many of the gods." Pizzo & Associates, Ltd.

oak leaves

Northern Red Oak
(Quercus rubra L.)

Identification and other facts / Facts



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Posted 7/27/05 Cindy O'Hora