Home » Plants » Quercus bicolor

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)

Page contents
Swamp White Oak


A large white oak favoring wet habitats.

Range - Expand


This tentative map is based on the FHWA's ERA. This data lacks information on Canada, but also overestimates native ranges, especially around the edges, as this post explains. We have not yet reviewed or fixed this map.

Similar Plants

thumbnail of White Oak
White Oak (Quercus alba)
View - Compare
thumbnail of Bur Oak
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
View - Compare


Prefers lowland and poorly-drained habitats ranging from wet to mesic, and with acidic soils, but adaptable to a range of conditions, including silt and clay soils, loam, and sand. Sandy and well-drained soils are tolerated on sites with sufficient moisture. Moderately shade tolerant when young, and replaces early successional species on wet sites in the absence of disturbance, but on well-drained sites, usually eventually replaced by other more shade-tolerant species such as hickory or beech. Intolerant of severe drought but more drought tolerant than some wetland tree species. Tolerates sites that are flooded in spring but dry in summer. Moderately tolerant of fire.

Found in forested wetlands and swamp margins, floodplain forests, in low-lying depressions and where clay soil prevents drainage.

Usually a minor component of forests in which it occurs, but can be a co-dominant tree, often with pin oak (Quercus palustris), in swamps in the midwest, and also with American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) farther south. This forest type is considered vulnerable due to habitat destruction.

Life Cycle

Seeds germinate directly after fall, without a period of cold dormancy, and quickly establish a taproot, making them difficult to transplant. Young trees tolerate some shade but larger trees require full sun.

Growth is more rapid than most species of the white oak group. Seed production usually begins at 20-30 years of age, peaks around 70-100 years. Trees can live 300-350 years.

Produces large acorn crops every 4-7 years. Dying trees also produce a large seed crop.

When top-killed, such as by fire, resprouts from the root system.


Occasionally used as a shade tree or landscaping plant; highly tolerant of urban conditions, including soil compaction.

Closely related to and able to hybridize with chestnut oak (Quercus montana) and white oak (Quercus alba), post oak (Quercus stellata), overcup oak (Quercus lyrata), and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa).

Swamp White Oak | The Wood Database (About This Site)

Swamp White Oak | Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) (About This Site)

Quercus bicolor (Swamp White Oak) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Quercus bicolor (Swamp White Oak) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Quercus bicolor | Go Botany (About This Site)

Swamp White Oak | iNaturalist (About This Site)

Quercus bicolor (Swamp White Oak) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Swamp White Oak | Virginia Tech Dendrology Factsheets (About This Site)

Swamp White Oak | Silvics of North America (About This Site)

Photo gallery