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Basket Oak Quercus michauxii


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Basket Oak, leaves
credit: Chhe

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Alternate name: Swamp Chestnut Oak, Cow Oak

Family: Fagaceae, Beech view all from this family

Description Quercus michauxii, the swamp chestnut oak, is a species of oak in the white oak section Quercus section Quercus, native to bottomlands and wetlands in the southern and central United States, from New Jersey south to northern Florida, and west to Missouri and eastern Texas; it is rare north of the Ohio River.

The swamp chestnut oak closely resembles the chestnut oak Quercus prinus, and for that reason has sometimes been treated as a variety of that species. However, the swamp chestnut oak is a larger tree which differs in preferred habitat, and the bark does not have the distinctive deep, rugged ridging of the chestnut oak, being thinner, scaly, and paler gray. It typically grows to around 65 ft (20 m) tall, though the tallest specimen currently known is 40m tall.

Some older botany taxonomies use the name Q. prinus for swamp chestnut oak, and designate the chestnut oak as Q. montana.

The leaves of the swamp chestnut oak are simple, 4-11 in (10-28 cm) long and 2-7 in (5-18 cm) broad, with 15-20 lobe-like, rounded simple teeth on each side, similar to but wider than the leaves of chestnut and chinkapin oaks. The fruit is an acorn 1-1O in (2.5-3.5 cm) long and -1 in (2-2.5) cm broad, borne on a -1 nin (2-3 cm) peduncle, maturing in the fall.

The swamp chestnut oak's wood can be sliced into flexible strips suitable for basket weaving, and for this reason the species is sometimes called the "basket oak".

The swamp chestnut oak's acorns are large and relatively sweet.

Habitat Watersides (fresh), Scrub, shrub & brushlands.

Range Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, Plains, New England, Southeast, Texas.

Comments Tolerates compaction better than most oaks. Long-lived and slow-growing. Adaptable. One of the best oaks for fall color. Drought tolerant.

Exposure Preference Sun to partial sun.

Native Distribution Coastal Plain from New Jersey & e. Pennsylvania to n. Florida & w. to Louisiana; also n. in Mississippi Valley to s. Illinois

Site Preference Bottomland forests; stream banks; calcareous swamps

Soil Preference Deep, rich soils.