The white oak (Quercus alba) grows up to 100 feet high with a 90 foot spread. The tree's trunk often measures 6 feet in diameter according to the U.S. Forest Service. The white oak lives up to 600 years. The abundant green foliage turns a brilliant red in the fall. The tree grows easily in USDA zones 3 to 8. The tree grows in abundance across the eastern United States, from Maine to Florida, and as far west as Kansas and Texas.
Plant the tree in full or partial shade. The tree grows poorly in full shade, and seedlings will often perish if they do not receive adequate light. It prefers acid, moist soil that is well-draining but will grow in clay or other soil types.
The bark of the white oak appears a light gray, almost white. The base of the tree flairs out and will easily crack and lift concrete driveways, roadways or sidewalks if planted beside them. Always plant the white oak at least 8 feet from concrete.
The white oak produces male flowers as slender catkins. The female flowers are produced on the same tree and are barely noticeable to the naked eye. Flowering occurs from March to May. Weather must remain fairly warm for 10 days with a cooling period of around 20 days during flowering to produce an ample crop of acorns. Adequate acorn crops are only achieved every four to 10 years.
Acorn production begins when the tree is between 50 to 200 years old. The white oak tree produces acorns 120 days after flowering. Acorns ripen and drop within 25 days. Once the acorn falls to the ground in September or October it begins to germinate for seedling production in the spring. Acorns are consumed by a wide variety of mammals.
Acorn viability ranges from 50 to 99 percent. Germination begins to occur when the soil temperature ranges from 50 to 60 degrees. Root growth is prolific after germination begins. Top growth will not start until the spring. Most seedlings will attain a height of 4 inches with only one year of growth. After the first year, most seedlings will begin to grow 2 feet or more per year.