Quercus stellata Wangenheim
Fagaceae (Beech) Family
Post Oak is a small or medium-sized tree, sometimes attaining a height of 60 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 to 2 feet, but commonly much smaller. The open crown tree has a dense, round-topped shape with stout, spreading branches.
The leaves are quite distinctive, being 4 to 6 inches long and 3 to 4 inches broad, thick and somewhat leathery in texture, obovate in outline, and usually 5-lobed. The two middle lobes are arranged opposite each other, are conspiciously larger than the other lobes and have squarish ends, giving the leaf a cross-shaped appearance.
The acorns are sessile or nearly so, with bowl-shaped cups. The nuts are ovoid, from 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch long, usually downy above, and about 1/3 enclosed by the cups, maturing in the first year.
The common name refers to the use of the wood of this tree for fence posts. Its wood, like that of the other white oaks, is hard, tough and rot-resistant. This tree tends to be smaller than most other members of the group, with lower, more diffuse branching, largely reflecting its tendency to grow in the open on poor sites, so its wood is of relatively low value as lumber. It is also a popular wood for smoking barbecue. The scientific epithet "stellata" means "star-shaped," referring to the branching hairs on the leaves, looking like small stars under the microscope.