Quercus velutina, commonly called black oak, is a large, deciduous oak of the red oak group that typically grows 50-60’ tall with a globular, spreading crown. This tree is primarily native to upland hills, slopes and ridges from Florida to Texas north to Maine, Ontario, Michigan and Minnesota. It is similar in appearance to red oak (Quercus rubra) with which it may on occasion hybridize. Buds are a significant difference between the two trees (hairless and smaller in red oak). Bark is almost black on mature trunks with deep furrows. Inner bark is yellow to orange. Trunk matures to 3’ in diameter. Leathery, shiny, dark green leaves (to 10” long) have 7-9 deeply incised lobes (each with 1-3 bristle tipped teeth). Leaves turn yellow to yellow-brown to dull red in fall. Terminal buds are covered with a dense, gray pubescence. Insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear in spring as the leaves emerge. Elliptic acorns (to 3/4” long) have saucer-shaped acorn cups that cover up to 1/2 of the acorn. On mature trees, large crops of acorns usually appear every 2 to 3 years. Acorns are an important food source for wildlife (e.g., deer, squirrels, small rodents, turkeys, grouse, jays and other birds). Easily grown in average, acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers moist, organically rich, well-drained soils, but tolerates poor dry soils. Hardy in zones 3-9.
Growing Instructions for the Black Oak
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. Put the seeds in a ziplock bag. 3. Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 2 months. 4. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. 5. Sow the seeds 1 inch deep in the soil. 6. Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. 8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.