Jack Oak - Black Oak - Barren Oak
Quercus marilandica Muench.
Fagaceae (Beech) Family
Blackjack Oak is a small-sized tree of poor form, usually only 20 to 30 feet in height with a trunk of 1 foot or less in diameter. Typically it has a short trunk with stout, short, and often contorted branches forming a narrow, compact, round-topped crown. It's preferred habitat is barren, dry, sterile, sandy to clay soils. The oak is southern in distribution, being one of the most common and most characteristic trees on the poorer soils throughout the Coastal Plain.
The leaves are variable from 4 to 8 inches long and nearly as broad, distinctly obovate in outline, with stout leaf stalks usually less than 1/2 inch length. Typically the leaf will have 3 lobes near the top, contracted about the middle and tapered to the somewhat rounded base. When identifying the tree by its leaf alone, keep in mind that all leaves may not be broad and flat. Some leaves may appear lobed and some will not (as seen above). If the leaf has distinct lobes, each lobe will have a small bristle at its tip.
The fruit (acorns) are short-stalked with deep, more or less top-shaped cups which cover about half of the nut. The nuts are about 3/4 inch long, ovoid, yellowish-brown in color, and often marked with streaks.
The wood of Blackjack Oak is heavy, hard, and strong but of relatively little commercial value. It is sometimes used locally for rough lumber but more commonly for fuel, charcoal, and distillation products.