Quercus velutina – Northern Black Oak
Botanical Name: Quercus velutina
The Northern Black Oak (Quercus velutina) is a large deciduous tree. It is found growing in the deciduous forests of eastern and central United States. It is also found growing on savannahs as the landscape transitions between eastern deciduous forests and western prairies. Like many oaks, it is a long-lived species, living up to 150-200 years. The growth habit is rounded and irregular. It grows to a height of 50-60 feet tall with a spread of 50-60 feet.
This oak tree is a member of the group of red oaks. Characteristic sharp bristles grow on the leaf lobes of these oaks. They also have acorns that develop after two growing seasons and mature in the spring.
The flowers of the Northern Black Oak are inconspicuous separate male and female catkins that grow on the same tree. They are yellowish-green in color and bloom when the leaves emerge in the spring. The fruits are acorns that grow up to ¾ inch in length with an acorn cup that covers half of its length. Acorns are produced on mature trees, with a large crop every 2 to 3 years.
The leaves are glossy, deep green and grow up to 10 inches long. They have 7-9 deep lobes with 1-3 bristles at the tips. In the fall, the leaves turn brownish-red or sometimes yellow. The bark is a dark gray or black with deep furrows.
The Northern Black Oak likes to grow in medium to dry conditions. It can withstand drought as well as poor soils.