Quercus falcata Michx.

Fully-hardy, spreading, deciduous tree with fissured, grey-brown bark, elliptic leaves, to 22cm long, deeply cut into curved lobes, and nearly spherical acorns.  To 25m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘One of the first difficulties in an attempt to clear up the misunderstandings regarding Spanish oak is to confine the name to the species to which it belongs.  That is no easy task, because the name has been applied to numerous oaks in various parts of the country, and without any apparent reason.  Some of these bear little resemblance to Spanish oak and grow almost wholly outside its range.  It is not a case of mistaking one for the other, for there is no mistake.  Some speak of the common red oak as Spanish oak, others bestow that name on yellow oak [Quercus velutina Lam. which see], others on black jack oak [Quercus marilandica Münchh. which see], or scarlet oak [Quercus coccinea Müenchh. which see], or anyone of several others.  It appears, however, that the name is not applied to any member of the white oak group.

It is said that Spanish oak and Norway pine were named by the same process.  Each got its name because it was supposed to be similar to a species in the old country — the pine like an evergreen of north Europe, and the oak like a broadleaf tree of Spain.  It was learned later that both the American species were different from those of Europe which they resembled.

The peculiar drooping foliage of Spanish oak gives the tree a character which impresses a person who sees the full-leafed crown for the first time.  The leaves are six or seven inches long and four or five wide.  Their forms vary within wide limits, and their shapes change from week to week while growing.  Some have no lobes or sinuses, others have them in rudimentary form only, while in still others they are well developed.

The tree is often called red oak, particularly by lumbermen who cut it and send it to market with red oak.  In Louisiana it is known as Spanish water oak, there being much resemblance between it and water oak (Quercus nigra) with which it is associated.  Its range covers more than 200,000 square miles, beginning at the north in New Jersey and following down the coast regions to central Florida.  It extends westward into Texas to the valley of the Brazos river; northward to Missouri and southern Indiana and Illinois.  It does not grow far inland from the coast in the north Atlantic states, but further south it is common on the coast plain between the sea and the base of the mountains.  It is often found on dry sand hills in that region.  The largest Spanish oaks on record grew in the lower Ohio valley, particularly along the Wabash river.’  [Gibson – American Forest Trees p.289/1913].

Introduced to Britain in 1763.  [PD]. 

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.814/1845].


Published Feb 03, 2010 - 05:26 PM | Last updated Feb 03, 2010 - 05:32 PM

The photograph shows a long, upright trunk in situ in the forest with forester for scale.  American Forest Trees p.289, 1913.

Quercus falcata Michx. | Gibson – American Forest Trees p.289/1913 as Quercus digitata | BHL

More details about Quercus falcata Michx.
Family Fagaceae
Region of origin

South eastern USA

  • Quercus triloba Michx.
  • Quercus digitata Sudw.
  • Quercus cuneata Wangenh.
Common Name

Spanish oak

Name in the Camden Park Record

Quercus triloba 

Confidence level high