Swamp-White Oak (Quercus bicolor)

Split swamp white oak trunk
Scar formed as this oak split in two.

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) is a common component of our Northern Hardwood Swamps.  Like all oaks, it produces acorns, which are relished by squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bluejays and crows. Squirrels and bluejays often cache the extra bounty of acorns by burying them, and inadvertently planting the next generation of oaks.  Squirrels don’t remember where they bury the acorns, and rely on their sense of smell to find them at any time of the year.  Oaks fall into two categories:  red oaks and white oaks.  Red oaks have pointy leaves and bitter acorns that take two years to mature.  Contrastingly, the leaves of white oaks have rounded leaf tips, and sweeter acorns that mature their first year.  Because they are sweeter, they are preferred by wildlife and the few humans that still like to make flour out of acorns after leaching them of tannins.  Many white oak species are resistant to rot–swamp white is no exception– and many of the ancient tilted wooden fence posts in Wisconsin are made from different species of white oaks.

Swamp White Oak Acorn Caps
Acorn caps of swamp white oak