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© Katja Schulz

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Inclusion in Plant ID / Comparison Guides

This photo is featured in 2 plant ID/comparison guides:

collage of Water Oak and Willow Oak

Water Oak (Quercus nigra) vs. Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)

Updated January 11th, 2021

Water oak and willow oak are sometimes confused, and often occur in the same range and habitats (bottomlands in the southeastern U.S.) and have similar growth habits, bark, and acorns. They are easily distinguished by differences in their leaves, but they also have subtle differences in acorns and bark. Water oak prefers sites slightly better-drained than willow oak, and is also found on a wider range of sites, sometimes occurring on mesic uplands; willow oak is rare on uplands, only occurring locally on poorly-drained sites.

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collage of Blackjack Oak and Water Oak

Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica) vs. Water Oak (Quercus nigra)

Updated October 1st, 2020

These two species are frequently confused as their leaf shapes are similar and atypical for oaks. Although their ranges overlap extensively, they have almost no overlap in habitat, with water oak preferring flood-prone sites and sometimes moist uplands, whereas blackjack oak prefers extremely dry, nutrient-poor, fire-prone habitats. They are easily told apart by leaf size, shape, bark, acorns, and habitat.

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