32 Incredible Facts About White Oak Trees

A white oak tree with "white oak" sign.

Today, we’re talking about one of our favorites; the White Oak Tree!

There are so many incredible facts about White Oak Trees that we don’t even realize. Did you know that white oak trees have to be 20 years old to produce acorns? Drumsticks are even made from White Oak Trees!

Okay, lets get to it. Here are 31 incredible facts about White Oak Trees.

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1. The Tallest White Oak Was The Size of 12 African Elephants Stacked

Yup, it’s true. The Tallest White Oak Tree was 44 meters, which is 145 feet, which is about the same size as 12 African Elephants standing on top of each other!

2. The Tallest White Oak Tree Was Called The Mingo Oak And Lived Until 1938

The Mingo Oak was an oak tree that is considered to have been the tallest White Oak tree to ever live. Standing at 145 feet tall, the Mingo Oak lived an impressive 582 years old when it was cut down. I know – who would cut it down? It, unfortunately, suffered from fumes from burning coal refuse.

The Mingo Oak Tree’s estimated seedling date is from 1354 AD – how amazing is that? This tree stood tall for 422 years before America was even founded.

3. The Average Oak Tree Lifespan is 300 Years

That’s right. White oak trees can live for quite sometime.

On average, White Oak Trees live about 300 years, with a maximum lifespan of up to 600 years. The only other oak tree that lives longer than a White Oak Tree is the Southern Live Oak Tree species, which can live up to 1000 years.

You can read more about the full lifespan of oak trees here.

4. A White Oak Tree is Monoecious

In Spring, a White Oak Tree produces both male and female flowers – which is very unlikely in the flowering plant kingdom.

The male flowers produce the pollen, and the female flowers produce the eggs. However, the truth is, the male flower of the White Oak Tree doesn’t always fertilize the female flower. Since a White Oak Tree is very wind-pollinated, the female is often pollinated from another tree!

5. White Oak Trees Produce Fruits Called Acorns

Yes, you heard that right – although a nut, acorns are the fruit of an oak tree!

All types of oak trees produce acorns; however, the acorns differ from oak tree to oak tree.

Acorns hold the seeds that will grow new oak trees. And believe it or not, all it takes is one single acorn to grow an entire oak tree. The acorns falling to the ground are part of the life cycle, as they will eventually grow new oak trees!

If you’re interested in all the trees that produce acorns, you can learn more about oak trees and acorns here.

Closeup of oak acorn over white background

6. White Oak Trees Have to Be 20 Years Old to Grow Acorns

If you see acorns on your nearby oak trees – there is a good chance that it is already 20 years old! It takes about 20 years for a White Oak Tree to start producing acorns.

When they start producing acorns, a White Oak Tree takes one whole year to grow that acorn. In a year’s time, a White Oak Tree can produce up to 12,000 acorns – 1,000 a month – and its entire lifetime, up to 1,000,000!

7. A White Oak Tree’s Acorns Are Sweet

As opposed to a Red Oak Tree – a White Oak Tree produce sweeter acorns! However, it is unsafe to ever eat the seeds from a raw acorn.

Acorns are used in the diets of many because, when cooked, they can offer a great ingredient for many baked goods! Sometimes used in cookies, or consumed when roasted, or even used as flour – a White Oak Tree’s acorns are used in both the human and wildlife diet.

An acorn itself is considered a superfood, especially for our wildlife. An acorn produces carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – all of which can provide nutrients to our wildlife.

It is said that in ancient times, acorns were used by our indigenous ancestors as a necessary part of their diet.

8. A White Oak Tree Provides Hardwood

A White Oak Tree provides deciduous hardwood. The best hardwood comes from the tallest White Oak Trees, whose trunks grow tall and straight.

The hardwood produced from the White Oak Tree has even straight grains and wood that is extremely hard, durable, heavy, and strong.

9. A White Oak Tree’s Wood is Light Beige/White in Color

Part of the reason why a White Oak Tree got its name is because of the color of hardwood it produces.

When the bark is peeled away or the tree is chopped down for wood, the color of the inside of the bark is a very light beige color. That color is one reason why they call it a White Oak Tree.

The lighter-color wood that is produced from a White Oak Tree is used for the high-end light, hardwood floors. The color itself is enough to wow you, but it is often stained with darker colors.

10. Whiskey Barrels Are Made From White Oak Trees

A White Oak Tree’s wood is used for so many things – including whiskey barrels! Because of its non-porous qualities and its ability to produce an amazing oaky flavor, whiskey and wine are aged in White Oak barrels.

There is a plastic-like substance called tyloses that helps make a White Oak Tree’s wood waterproof! Because of this waterproof quality – white oak is used in barrels, ships, and buckets!

11. A White Oak Tree is Harder Than a Red Oak Tree

According to the Janka hardness test, a White Oak Tree’s wood is slightly harder than a Red Oak Tree’s wood.

Oak tree

The Janka hardness test that is used determines how hard a piece of wood is by swinging an 11.28-millimeter steel ball halfway into a piece of wood and then measuring its force.

A Red Oak Trees wood’s Janka rating is 1290, where a White Oak Tree’s wood has a rating of 1360.

You can read more about the difference between White Oak Trees and Red Oak Trees here.

12. Drumsticks Are Made From White Oak Trees 

Because of the hardness level of a White Oak Tree’s wood, the hardwood is perfect for drumsticks!

White Oak Tree wood is perfect for drumsticks because they are durable, are non-porous, helps with the sound, and last longer than other wooden drumsticks.

13. The Symbol of 80 Years of Marriage is Oak Tree 

It’s fitting that the Oak tree is the symbol for 80 years of marriage.

We know that White Oak Trees are symbolic in many ways, and specifically, White Oak Trees represent strength, resilience, longevity, permanence, and stability. 

You can say that 80 years of marriage definitely shares those attributes as well! 

14. An Oak Tree is Used As a Symbol in the Army Ranks

A gold and silver-white oak tree leaf is the symbol given to differentiate the army ranks of the Lieutenant Commanders, Majors, O-4 and Commanders, Lieutenant Colonels, O-5. 

The oak tree is also used on the Medal of Honor as a design in the military. Today, those in the military who receive awards may also receive a silver encrusted cluster of oak leaves and acorns as a token along with their metal.

Since the oak tree has so many respected qualities, it is no wonder our heroes receive awards that include the oak tree design.

15. A White Oak Tree is The State Tree for 3 States

White oak (quercus alba) leaf isolated on white background.
White Oak (Quercus alba) leaf.

The White Oak Tree is the state tree for 3 states – Connecticut, Maryland, and Illinois.

In Connecticut, the Charter Oak, a White Oak Tree, was deemed the state tree in 1947. Living for over 200 years, the Charter Oak fell during a difficult storm in the 1800s. It is also said that King Charles II hid the charter in the state in a White Oak Tree.

In Maryland, the Wye Oak was a tree that was considered to be “the finest white oak specimen in the country,” and because of this, they decided to make this their state tree in 1941.

In 1908, Illinois started the process of choosing a state tree. Illinois gave the students in their schools a poll of what they think the state tree should be. On the poll, there were three trees: the native oak tree, the elm tree, and the ash tree. Students chose the native oak tree.

In 1973, the plot thickens, and those of Illinois gave their students a vote again to choose the type of oak for the state tree, and they chose the White Oak Tree.

16. White Oak Trees Get Their Name Because of the Color of The Back of Their Leaves

In addition to the color of the hardwood, White Oak Trees get their name because of the color of the back of their leaves!

The back of a White Oak Trees leaves is a whitish color or considered to be a paler green.

Although the color changes in the fall to red or brown, the back of the White Oak Tree leave is a key way to identify which type of oak tree it is.

17. White Oak Trees Are Found on The East Coast of The USA And as Far West as Minnesota

White Oak Trees are found all over the East Coast to the beginning of Florida, then expand to the eastern part of Texas and west to Minnesota.

The span of the White Oak Trees is predominantly in the Eastern part of the United States and originated on the East Coast. White Oak Trees are very rarely seen in coastal areas and in higher altitude locations.

18. Turkeys Love White Oak Tree Acorns

It’s the truth! Turkeys actually love White Oak Trees. White Oak Trees provide shelter, food, and a ton of nesting spaces, which makes them perfect for turkeys and a large variety of other animals.

If you are in an area where they’re a lot of wild turkeys, you have to look up into the trees at night, because we promise you – you will see turkeys just sitting on the branches and looking down! It’s truly a sight to see, but it makes a ton of sense! 

Turkeys love White Oak Trees because they provide them with an ample amount of food – 70% of a wild turkey’s diet consists of acorns!

In addition to that, the White Oak Trees provide sturdy and stable branches for turkeys to create their shelter, and because White Oak Trees are super tall, the turkeys can be safe from any turkey predators.

19. White Oak Trees Grow From 1-2 Feet a Year

The growth rate of a White Oak tree is considered to be slow. Growing from one to two feet a year, a White Oak Tree, on average, takes 30 years to grow fully!

Starting from a tiny acorn or sapling, a White Oak Tree, and with relatively forgiving conditions, will become larger than life – but it will take some time.

Here’s a full timeline on how long it takes to grow an oak tree.

20. White Oak Trees Need 4 Hours of Direct Sun a Day

In order for White Oak Trees to grow to their highest potentials, White Oak Trees need direct sun for 4 hours throughout the day!

The truth of the matter is, a White Oak Tree is a shade tree that provides so much shade to our outdoor spaces, for our wildlife, and for us, but in order to give us all that shade, it needs a ton of sun to grow.

21. White Oak Tree Bark is Used in Medicine

White Oak Trees, to this day, are used in a variety of ways, including medicine.

Because a White Oak Tree has so many astringent properties, it is used today as a tea to treat arthritis, diarrhea, colds, fever, cough, and bronchitis, for helping stimulate an appetite, and can even improve digestion!

However, never use the bark of a White Oak Tree for medicinal purposes on your own. Always consult a doctor or professional and let them direct you.

22. A White Oak Tree Can Live For 6 Centuries

Oak tree green nature landscape

White Oak Trees live an extremely long time! The oldest living one is said to be 582! 

Although White Oak Trees reach maturity at 75-100 years old – Oak Trees then get to live in retirement, as their acorn production decreases. However, White Oak Trees will provide shade and shelter, and their barks will still be useful for hundreds of years to come.

If you’re planning on planting an oak tree, keep their lifespan in mind when you plant an oak tree in your backyard.

23. A White Oak Tree’s Roots Can Grow 7x The Size of The Canopy

Yes, it’s true; those big canopies aren’t the biggest part of a White Oak Tree!

With canopies ranging from 60-70 feet when fully grown, the roots of a White Oak Tree grow 7x that – they can be up to almost 500 feet!

The Roots of the White Oak Tree grow way faster than any part of the tree, and a White Oak Tree is so so stable and so strong, due in part to the roots!

24. Black Bears Love White Oak Trees

Black bears cannot get enough of White Oak Trees!

Why do Black Bears Love White Oak Trees? Well, it’s because of the acorns! They actually prefer White Oak Tree acorns over Red Oak Tree acorns due to their sweetness and will eat acorns completely whole – shell and all!

Of course, depending on where you live, you may not have black bears just hanging out in your nearby White Oak Trees – but if you live in a highly-populated Black Bear area like Pennsylvania, Minnesota, or Oregon – you are going to see them.

25. The Oak Tree is the National Tree of 17 Countries

There are 17 countries around the world that have a type of oak tree as their national tree – including the USA! 

Belarus, Cyprus, Denmark, England, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, United Kingdom, United States of America and Wales, all have an oak tree as their national tree. 

26. White Oak Burns Longer as Firewood Than Red Oak

Since the White Oak Tree is much slower growth of a tree than the Red Oak Tree – a White Oak Tree’s wood is way denser. Since the wood is denser, it takes a lot longer to burn through it – making the White Oak Tree a great choice for firewood!

White Oak Tree wood is also non-porous, which will help the smoking capabilities of the log itself.

27. White Oak Trees Are 20ft Tall at 10 Years Old

Since we now know that White Oak Trees grow relatively slow, you may be surprised that it’s already 10 years old when it’s only 20 feet!

You can actually buy 20-foot White Oak Trees in garden centers at that height right now. So just think, that garden center has been growing that tree for at least 10 years before you purchased it.

If you’re interested more about oak tree growth, check out our guide on the fastest growing oak trees here.

28. A White Oak Tree Can Grow from a Single Acorn

A White Oak Tree can actually grow from one single acorn. But don’t let that scare you if you have a White Oak Tree – because it is said that every 4-10 years, an Oak Tree will produce an acorn that’s perfect for growing – so you’re not going to have 1000 oak trees growing every month! 

That being said, an acorn can eventually be buried in the ground from weather and the sorts – but sometimes, our best White Oak Tree planters are squirrels!

Squirrels bury their nuts and acorns, and honestly, they sometimes forget where they are – especially if they migrated in the time being! Those buried nuts – can then become full-growing White Oak Trees!

29. Ink From an Oak Tree Was Used to Write Newton’s Theories

Can you believe this? Oak Trees have an insect that absolutely loves them – the Oak Gall Wasps, and when those wasps lay eggs – they lay hard shells, like an acorn, but they are round, hard, and black. To make the ink, they use the shells and smash them up to make an ink-like substance called Gall Ink.

Gall Ink was used to make many manuscripts and documents, and it was also used to write Newton’s Theories!

30. White Oak Trees Were Used to Build Homes For Our Earliest Ancestors 

White Oak Trees have been around for millions of years. There are fossils dating back to times when the White Oak Trees came to be, and throughout these millions of years – our earliest ancestors would use the White Oak Trees’ wood to create huts and shelters for them and their people.

The Native Americans also used the White Oak Tree for tool handles, corn pounding mortars, gathering baskets and barrels.

31. White Oak Trees Are Homes For Animals

The best fact of all – White Oak Trees are truly magical trees. One tree alone can provide abundance for people and animals alike, and they play such an instrumental part in our world, in the past, today, and even in our futures!

32. The Male Flowers of a White Oak Tree Are Called Catkins

Why Catkins? Well, the name Catkins comes from a Dutch word, katteken, which means kitten!

The male flower’s texture not only resembles the fur of a kitten, but it looks like a kitten’s tail! A catkin hangs, drooping, like a tail, with pollen attached to it. In little clusters – they truly resemble cattails!

References:

Abrams, M. D. (2003). Where has all the white oak gone?. BioScience53(10), 927-939.

“llinois State Symbols.” State of Illinois Main Site, https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/education/Pages/ILStateSymbols.aspx#:~:text=Illinois%20State%20Tree%20%2D%20White%20Oak,chosen%20as%20the%20State%20Tree.

Pilcher, J. R., & Gray, B. (1982). The relationships between oak tree growth and climate in Britain. The journal of ecology, 297-304.

Peter, D., & Harrington, C. (2002). Site and Tree Factors in Orego regon White Oak Acorn Production in Western Wash. Northwest Science76(3), 189.

Sharp, W. M., & Sprague, V. G. (1967). Flowering and fruiting in the white oaks. Pistillate flowering, acorn development, weather, and yields. Ecology48(2), 243-251.

“The Charter Oak.” Our Libraries – CT Judicial Branch Law Library Services, https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/history/charteroak.htm. 

“White Oak Quercas Alba.” Medicinal Plants-White Oak, www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/White_Oak.html.

Quercus Alba L, https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/misc/ag_654/volume_2/quercus/alba.htm. 

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