White oak bark: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on white oak

Quercus alba, commonly called the white oak, is a tree of the Fagaceae family.

The lower branches of the white oak are likely to extend far out laterally, parallel to the ground; and on maturity this tree can reach vertical heights of 65–85 feet (19.5-25.5 m). White oak may live in excess of 200–300 years, older instances have occurred. At around 20 years the tree's sexual maturity begins, however it will not produce large crops of acorns until it is 50 years of age.

White oak bark is a light ash-gray and peels somewhat from the top, bottom and/or sides. In the spring its young silvery-pink leaves are delicate and covered with a soft, blanket-like down. The petioles are short, and the pale green and downy leaves will cluster close to the ends of the shoots. The leaves grow to be 5-8.5 inches in length and 2.75-4.5 inches in width and have an upper surface that is deep glossy green. In the autumn they will usually turn red or brown, however depending on climate, site, and individual tree genetics, some white oak trees are nearly always red, and can even be even purple in autumn.

The lobes can be shallow (extending only less than halfway to the midrib) or they can be deep and somewhat branching. The acorns are usually sessile, and grow to 0.5-1 inch in length, falling in early October.

Also known as:
white oak

White Oak, the astringent bark
White oak bark: Where in the World
habitat and range for white oak

Quercus alba is native to eastern North America and found from southern Quebec west to eastern Minnesota and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas.

White oak bark: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting white oak

White oak grows both on ridges and in valleys—as well as in between—in dry and moist habitats. The white oak is mainly a lowland tree, but in the Appalachian Mountains reaches altitudes of 5,249 ft. In an oak-heath forest (as is commonly found in high elevations in the eastern US), white oak is often a component of the forest canopy.

Grows in moderately acid and alkaline soils.

The seeds will quickly lose viability if they are allowed to dry out. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in an outdoor seed bed, though it must be protected from mice, squirrels and similar.

The plant produces a deep taproot and need to be planted out into their permanent locations relatively young. Trees should not remain in a nursery bed for more than two growing seasons without being moved, if they are, they will transplant poorly.

The white willow bark is harvested in the spring and dried for later use.

Store dried white willow bark, cut pieces and dried powdered white willow bark in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.