There are two main groupings of oak trees, the red oak and white oak. White oak is an umbrella term that encompasses many individual trees.
Bark: The bark on a white oak is a light ashy-gray color and is scaly on young trees. As the tree ages, the ridges will become more defined and form rectangular blocks.
Leaves: White oak leaves have 7-9 lobes and grow 5-9 inches long. The leaves look somewhat like how a child might draw a pine tree (the base of the stem being the top of the tree), but with more rounded edges. White oak leaves turn into a red wine color in autumn that slowly fades into a brown.
Fruit: The acorns that grow on white oaks start out a light green and darken into a brown as the fruit ripens. That are a little sweeter than the red oak acorn. The cap on the acorn has a warty texture and is a light brown.
We rate white oak trees as first class, as they are currently in high demand on the markets. White oak is used to make flooring, furniture, timber frame buildings, and veneer. Alcohols such as wine, brandy and whiskey are commonly aged in barrels made of white oak.
Benefit to Forest:
White oaks produce acorns, which becomes food for many forest-dwelling creatures such as squirrels, deer and mice. The acorns have a high nutritional value due to their high fat content.
White Oak Group
There are key features you can use to tell a white oak species apart from a red oak. White oak leaves are mostly rounded and the nuts are sweeter than that of a red oak. They germinate in fall and the acorns mature within one year of flowering. The bark is mostly scaly as compared to red oak bark, which is mostly furrowed. Common white oak species you will find in Indiana include swamp white oak, over-cup oak, bur oak, chestnut oak, chinkapin oak, and post oak.