Quercus nigra Linnaeus
Fagaceae (Beech) Family
The Water Oak is a round topped tree from 50 to 80 feet in height with a trunk diameter of from 2 to 3.5 feet. It is typically a bottomland species and is widespread and abundant along streams throughout the Southeast, ascending them from the coastal plain into the foothills of the mountains. Throughout the same region it is a popular shade and street tree. The larger trees are often cut for lumber which the lumbermen do not differentiate from that of other Red Oaks. The small acorns are a valuable food sorce for wild turkey, squirrels, and various species of wild ducks.
The leaves are exceedingly variable as to size and shape. Typically they are from 2 to 4 inches long and from 1 to 2 inches wide; obovate, spatula-shaped, or diamond-shaped in outline. Most often they are more or less 3-lobed toward the broad summit, but they may be variously lobed or even entire (no teeth). The upper leaf surface is dull bluish-green; the lower, paler and smooth except for tufts of hair in the axils of the main veins.
The roundish acorns are about 1/2 inch long; seated in shallow, saucer-shaped cups.