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News and Blog Articles
Quercus phellos, otherwise known as the willow oak, is a deciduous tree of the red oak family, native to North America.
These medium-sized trees typically reach heights of 65 to 100 feet with a trunk diameter between 4 and 5 feet, though some have been recorded growing as high as 128 feet with a trunk diameter of up to 6 feet. Despite their grand size, these oaks typically maintain a shallow, fibrous root zone, making them easy to transplant.
Thanks to their value as shade trees, willow oaks are a popular choice to line sidewalks or public parks; when young, they have a pyramid-like shape that will fill out to a more round shape as they age. This visually pleasing balance of axial and radial dominance, in addition to its full crown and delicate leaves that contrast those of other oaks, makes willow oaks an attractive addition to any landscape.
Subsequently, these trees are referred to as willow oaks, despite having no actual relation to willow trees (though they do share a similar manner of absorbing water!).
During the spring, willow oak leaves are a bright, attractive green on top with a paler, muted green on the underside. This underside can sometimes be lined with downy hair, but the leaves are otherwise hairless. The distribution of the leaves creates a dappled shade effect; if you’ve ever sat beneath one, you know how relaxing it is to have enough light to see by without being hounded by the harsher of the sun’s rays.
In summer, the leaves darken to a warmer green, and in autumn, they can turn a stunning golden yellow or a rustic, burnt red before they fall, making them even more attractive as a landscape addition. Georgia is well-known for its beautiful fall landscapes, and willow oaks are no exception!
The bark of the willow oak ranges from a muted brown to a soft grey color and is identified as chunky-scaly, referring to the irregular fissures that run along the trunk. As a kid, you probably tried to peel bark like this to see how long a piece you could get! With this color and pattern combination, willow oaks are considered attractive even when bare, making them visually pleasing even during the winter.
In addition to their expansive size, willow oaks can present stark competition for sunlight, water, soil nutrients, and other resources. Their elevated water needs when young will often have them pirating water from other plants in the area, and their rapid growth rate means they can easily deplete surrounding soil of its nutrients as quickly as it can be replaced, leaving little to no nutrients for other flora in the area. If you have a lot of other trees and plants around, make sure your willow oak doesn’t steal all their resources!
Overall, when considering adding a willow oak to your yard or home landscape, keep in mind their growth rate and size, as well as their high water needs when young; where space permits, these trees are a grand addition, so long as they are left ample room to grow to their full potential, and are sufficiently supplied with water and nutrients to prevent negatively impacting the surrounding flora.
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.
Willlow Oak, Gardening Know How
Willow Oak, University of Kentucky
Willow Oak, Wikipedia.org
Willow Oak, Wood Database
Pic 1 - Online Plant Nursery, onlineplantnursery.com/buy-willow-oak-tree-for-sale
Pic 2 - Dave's Garden, davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/53594/#b
Pic 3 - Kiefer Nursery, kiefernursery.com/product/quercus-phellos/
Pic 4 - Shade Tree Farm, shadetreefarm.com/2011/01/05/willow-oak/
Pic 5 - Nativ Nurseries, nativnurseries.com
Pic 6 - Arbor Day Blog, arbordayblog.org/treeoftheweek/willow-oak-handsome-southerner/
Did You Know Pic - American Forests, americanforests.org/big-trees/willow-oak-quercus-phellos/