Quercus bicolor Willd.

Fully-hardy, spreading deciduous tree with peeling, fissured bark, obovate, shallowly-lobed, glossy leaves, to 16cm long, and long-stalked acorns.  To 20m.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Swamp White Oak (Quercus platanoides).  This tree’s botanical name means “broadleaf oak,” and that is a good description as far as it goes, but it does not apply solely to this species.  The characteristic which fixes it best in the minds of most people is its preference for low, wet soil.  Its two common names are swamp oak and swamp white oak, yet it is not really a swamp tree, such as the northern white cedar, southern white cedar, cypress, and tupelo are.  It does not associate with any of those trees.  It prefers river banks, and does not object to a good deal of water about its roots, though it grows nicely in situations out of reach of all overflow, and often side by side with silver maple, hickory, ash, and several other oaks.  The leaf resembles that of chestnut oak, and the bark is somewhat like chestnut oak, but the wood passes in market for white oak, and is a good substitute for it, though the resemblance is not so close that one need be mistaken for the other.  The tree averages about seventy feet high with a diameter of two feet, but much larger trunks are common.  The famous “Wadsworth oak,” which stood on the bank of the Genesee river in western New York, about a mile from the village of Geneseo, was a swamp white oak.  It had a trunk diameter of nine feet, but it was not tall in proportion.  It met its overthrow by the undermining of the river bank in time of flood.  That is a common fate for this tree, because of its preference for river banks.  Its range is from Maine to Wisconsin and Iowa.  It follows the mountains to northern Georgia; and west of the Mississippi it grows as far south as Arkansas.  The species is best developed in western New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, and along the southern shores of Lakes Erie and Michigan.’  [Gibson – American Forest Trees p.225/1913].

Introduced to Europe in 1800.  [Hilliers’].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.796/1845].


Published Feb 18, 2009 - 03:08 PM | Last updated Feb 03, 2010 - 02:40 PM

More details about Quercus bicolor Willd.
Family Fagaceae
Region of origin

Eastern USA

  • Quercus platanoides (Lam.) Sudw.
  • Quercus prinus Michx. var. platanoides Castigl.
Common Name

Swamp white oak

Name in the Camden Park Record

Quercus bicolor

Confidence level high