CCU Arboretum

Water Oak

Common Name: Water Oak (added 2/4/2021) MCD
Water Oak

Scientific Name:
Quercus nigra

Species Range: 
Water oak is native to southeastern United States ranging from southern New Jersey to southern Florida and over to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. It is common along the Coastal Plain and can be found in a variety of habitats such as floodplains, mixed forests, and well-drained uplands.

Growth Characteristics: 
Water oak is a fast-growing deciduous tree that grows 60-100 feet tall. Its leaves are thin blades that vary in size and shape but typically get no bigger than 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. They are at their widest near the tip and have a long narrow base. The bark of the water oak is gray and smooth but becomes slightly furrowed as it ages. The yellowish-brown catkin flowers appear in the spring while its fruit, an acorn, matures in the fall and gets no bigger than ½ inch long.

Ecosystem Service Value: 
Many different types of animals use the acorns as a food source.

Uses, Other Details: 
The biggest use for the water oak is as a shade tree.

There are a few different diseases, such as oak wilt, and a few leaf attacking pests that threaten the water oak.

Species profile by Billie Rogers


Kirkman, L. Katherine., et al. Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide. Timber Press, 2007.

“Quercus nigra: Water Oak.” University of Florida IFAS Extension, Retrieved November 15, 2020.

“Water Oak Quercus nigra.” Arbor Day Foundation, Retrieved November 15, 2020.