Height: 40 to 60 feet
Lifespan: Reaches 300 years or more.
Fall Foliage: Not very spectacular. Goldish brown to reddish brown.
Range: The southeastern United States, from Texas to New Jersey.
Typical Habitat: Upland tree, typically found on well-drained or rocky soils.
The Post Oak: Quite the Contributor
Post oaks aren’t as celebrated as white or live oaks, but they’re important contributors to the forest food web and human society.
Being members of the white oak group, post oaks produce (relatively) palatable acorns that are popular with birds, deer and the other usual suspects. And while they are smaller than some other white-group acorns, they serve as an important food source in some places.
Humans, on the other hand, celebrate the tree for its strong, durable wood. In fact, it gets its common name from its use in making fence posts. It’s also used for other demanding applications like stairways and rail ties.
Identification: Tips & Tricks
The post oak’s leaf is reasonably distinctive, and a “classic” example of a leaf is pretty easy to identify. Just look for the five-lobed, somewhat cross-like shape, along with the absence of bristle-tips. However, the leaves of this tree also quite hairy or rough (often being described as “sandpaper-like”) – especially on the top surface.
It often bears twisted, gnarled branches at the lower levels of the canopy, but it’s rarely necessary to go beyond leaf shape and texture to identify this tree.
The Post Oak: Additional Information
Hungry for more post-oak goodness? Check out these helpful resources:
- Missouri Department of Conservation: Basic info, including a few good full-tree photographs.
- Illinois Wildflowers: Basic information about post oaks, but with a slightly different tone and more interesting tidbits than most tree references.
- U.S. Forest Service: Raw, nonsense information about the post oak.