Connected Sustainability | Bur Oak
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Quercus macrocarpa Michx.

Bur Oak


How to Recognize Me

Bur oak or mossycup oak is one of the most majestic of the native North American oaks. It is a medium to large sized deciduous oak with a broad- spreading, rounded crown. The young bark is brown, furrowed and rough. The mature bark is deeply furrowed with ridges broken into irregular, thick, dark, grey scales.

Fruits are oval acorns to 1 1/2” long with fringed, burry cups that extend to approximately 1/2 to 3/4 the acorn length. Leathery, dark green leaves 6-12” long with 5-9 rounded lobes are variable in shape, but usually have a pair of deep central sinuses that extend nearly to the midrib giving the leaf a waisted appearance. Fall color is an undistinguished yellow-brown. Twigs sometimes are ridged with corky wings.

Oaks are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils. However, the bur oak is generally considered

low-maintenance, long-lived tree. Some have lived as long as four centuries.


I Am Special to People

The tree produces a high quality lumber used in flooring, veneer, furniture, boats and cooperage for whisky barrels. Due to the thickness of the bark, the bur oak is fire-resistant.

I Hold a Special Place In History

Acorn cups are covered with a mossy scale or bur
near the rim, hence the common names. Insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear in spring as the leaves emerge. Acorns are an important source of food for wildlife. They are edible for humans after tannins are removed and can be deep fried or mixed in a soup. Native Americans used bur oak as medication for heart problems and other ailments.


The Facts

  • Height: 60’-80’
  • Spread: 60’-80’
  • Sun: full sun
  • Soil: deep, dry, rich; well drained sandy or clay loam
  • Bloom Time: April
  • Bloom Description: yellowish- green
  • Flower: separate male and female catkins
  • Fruit: edible oval acorns Tolerate: drought, clays, dry soil Suggested Use: shade tree, rain garden
Noted Trees