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Edible uses


Seed - raw or cooked[1]. Somewhat sweet[2]. The seed is about 1 - 3cm long[3] and ripens in its first year[4]. It contains about 6% protein and 65% carbohydrates[5]. It is low in tannin and needs little if any leaching. It is said that those seeds with red or pink blotches on the shell are the sweetest[6]. Any bitter tannins can be leached out by thoroughly washing the dried and ground up seed in water, though many minerals will also be lost. It can take several days or even weeks to properly leach whole seeds, one method was to wrap them in a cloth bag and place them in a stream. Leaching the powder is quicker. A simple taste test can tell when the tannin has been leached. The traditional method of preparing the seed was to bury it in boggy ground overwinter. The germinating seed was dug up in the spring when it would have lost most of its astringency. The seed can be roasted and then eaten, its taste is something like a cross between sunflower seeds and popcorn[6]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute that is free from caffeine[1].

Unknown part

Material uses

A mulch of the leaves repels slugs, grubs etc, though fresh leaves should not be used as these can inhibit plant growth.

The bark is a rich source of tannin[7][1]. Oak galls are excrescences that are sometimes produced in great numbers on the tree and are caused by the activity of the larvae of different insects. The insects live inside these galls, obtaining their nutrient therein. When the insect pupates and leaves, the gall can be used as a rich source of tannin, that can also be used as a dyestuff[8]. A brown dye is obtained from the bark or from the galls, it does not require a mordant[1]. Yellow, chrome and gold can also be obtained if mordants are used[1].

Wood - strong, very heavy, hard, tough, close grained, durable[9][10][7][5][11]. It weighs about 46lb per cubic foot[11]. One of the most important timbers in N. America, it is used for cabinet making, construction, agricultural tools etc, and is also a good fuel[9][10][7][5]. Highly valued for making the staves of barrels for storing wine and liquor[12].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

White oak was often used medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who valued it especially for its antiseptic and astringent properties and used it in the treatment of many complaints[13]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.

The inner bark contains 6 - 11% tannin, it has powerful antiseptic and astringent properties and is also expectorant and tonic[14][15][5][13]. The bark is boiled and the liquid drunk in the treatment of bleeding piles and diarrhoea, intermittent fevers, coughs and colds, consumption, asthma, lost voice etc[5][13]. The bark has been chewed as a treatment for mouth sores[13]. Externally, it is used as a wash for skin eruptions, burns, rashes, bruises, ulcers etc and as a vaginal douche[16][13]. It has also been used as a wash for muscular pains[13]. The bark is best collected in the spring[5].

Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of haemorrhages, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery etc[8].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - it quickly loses viability if it is allowed to dry out. It can be stored moist and cool overwinter but is best sown as soon as it is ripe in an outdoor seed bed, though it must be protected from mice, squirrels etc. Small quantities of seed can be sown in deep pots in a cold frame. Plants produce a deep taproot and need to be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible, in fact seed sown in situ will produce the best trees[17]. Trees should not be left in a nursery bed for more than 2 growing seasons without being moved or they will transplant very badly.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Quercus alba. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a good deep fertile loam which can be on the stiff side[18][17]. Lime tolerant[19]. Young plants tolerate reasonable levels of side shade[3]. Tolerates moderate exposure, surviving well but being somewhat stunted[3].

The white oak prefers warmer summers than are usually experienced in Britain, trees often grow poorly in this country and fail to properly ripen their wood resulting in frost damage over the winter[3]. There are, however, a number of trees 20 metres tall in Britain, mainly in the south-east of the country[17]. Sometimes cultivated for its edible seed, there are some named varieties[6]. Trees take about 30 years before they start to bear good crops of seed, they then have heavy crops about every 3 years with light crops in the other years[11]. They continue to yield commercial crops for about 120 years[11]. The tree flowers on new growth produced in spring, the seed ripening in its first year[3][2]. Intolerant of root disturbance, trees should be planted in their permanent positions whilst young, though they may require protection for the first winter or two[17]. Hybridizes freely with other members of the genus[3].

Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[3].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Quercus alba. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Quercus alba.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Quercus alba
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
  2. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
  3. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  4. ? 4.04.1 Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
  5. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  6. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  7. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  8. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  9. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  10. ? Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
  11. ? Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292780206 (1982-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J [Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas] Botanical Research Institute, Texas. (1999-00-00)
  13. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
  14. ? 14.014.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  17. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  18. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  19. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  20. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

"image:White oak foliage.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

Facts about "Quercus alba"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyFagaceae +
Belongs to genusQuercus +
Has binomial nameQuercus alba +
Has common nameWhite Oak +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part + and Seed +
Has edible useCoffee + and Unknown use +
Has environmental toleranceHigh wind +
Has fertility typeWind +
Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
Has growth rateSlow +
Has hardiness zone4 +
Has imageWhite oak foliage.JPG +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useFuel +, Repellent +, Tannin + and Wood +
Has mature height20 +
Has mature width10 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntiseptic +, Astringent + and Tonic +
Has primary imageWhite oak foliage.JPG +
Has search namequercus alba + and white oak +
Has shade toleranceLight shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceLoamy +, Clay + and Heavy clay +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameQuercus alba +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Quercus alba +, Quercus alba +, Quercus alba +, Quercus alba +, Quercus alba +, Quercus alba +, Quercus alba +, Quercus alba + and Quercus alba +