Quercus stellata

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Post oak
Houston campsite oak.jpg
The Houston Campsite Oak in Grapevine Springs Preserve, Coppell, Texas
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Subgenus: Quercus subg. Quercus
Section: Quercus sect. Quercus
Q. stellata
Binomial name
Quercus stellata
Quercus stellata range map 1.png
Natural range of Quercus stellata
Synonyms [2]

Quercus stellata, the post oak or iron oak, is a North American species of oak in the white oak section. It is a slow-growing oak that lives in dry, poor soils, and is resistant to rot, fire, and drought. Interbreeding occurs among white oaks, thus many hybrid species combinations occur.

Oak genus of plants

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately 600 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus, as well as in those of unrelated species such as Grevillea robusta and the Casuarinaceae (she-oaks). The genus Quercus is native to the Northern Hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cool temperate to tropical latitudes in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. North America contains the largest number of oak species, with approximately 90 occurring in the United States, while Mexico has 160 species of which 109 are endemic. The second greatest center of oak diversity is China, which contains approximately 100 species.

Fire rapid oxidation of a material

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

Drought extended period when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply

A drought or drouth is a natural disaster of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 15 days. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region and harm to the local economy. Annual dry seasons in the tropics significantly increase the chances of a drought developing and subsequent bush fires. Periods of heat can significantly worsen drought conditions by hastening evaporation of water vapour.



Q. stellata is native to the eastern and central United States, and found in all the coastal states from Massachusetts to Texas, and as far inland as Nebraska. [3] It is identifiable by the rounded cross-like shape formed by the leaf lobes and hairy underside of the leaves.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.


1812 illustration NAS-005f Quercus stellata.png
1812 illustration

Post oak is a relatively small tree, typically 10–15 m (33–50 ft) tall and trunk 30–60 cm (1–2 ft) in diameter, though occasional specimens reach 30 m (100 ft) tall and 140 cm (56 in or 4.7 ft) in diameter. The leaves have a very distinctive shape, with three perpendicular terminal lobes, shaped much like a Maltese cross. They are leathery, and tomentose (densely short-hairy) beneath. The branching pattern of this tree often gives it a rugged appearance. The acorns are 1.5–2 cm (0.6-0.8 in) long, and are mature in their first summer. [5]

Tree Perennial woody plant with elongated trunk

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a woody trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are just over 3 trillion mature trees in the world.

Leaf organ of a vascular plant, composing its foliage

A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant and is the principal lateral appendage of the stem. The leaves and stem together form the shoot. Leaves are collectively referred to as foliage, as in "autumn foliage".

Tomentose is a term often used in biology to describe surfaces that are velvety or covered in hairs.


The specific epithet stellata is Latin for "star"; [6] it is named this because the trichome hairs on the bottom of the leaves are stellate [5] or star-shaped. Several variants of Q. stellata were named by American botanist Charles Sprague Sargent. The variety most recognised by the US Forest Service is Q. stellata var. paludosa Sarg (delta post oak) [7]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.


Trichomes, from the Greek τρίχωμα (trichōma) meaning "hair", are fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists. They are of diverse structure and function. Examples are hairs, glandular hairs, scales, and papillae. A covering of any kind of hair on a plant is an indumentum, and the surface bearing them is said to be pubescent.

Charles Sprague Sargent American botanist

Charles Sprague Sargent was an American botanist. He was appointed in 1872 as the first director of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts, and held the post until his death. He published several works of botany. The standard botanical author abbreviation Sarg. is applied to plants he identified.


Varieties include: [8]


Hybrids [5]
Hybrid NameQ. stellata x <sp.>
Q. × stelloides E. J. PalmerQ . prinoides
Q. × mahloni E. J. PalmerQ . sinuata var. breviloba
Q. × pseudomargaretta TreleaseQ . margaretta
Q. × sterretti TreleaseQ . lyrata
Q. × macnabiana SudworthQ . sinuata
Q. × guadalupensis SargentQ . sinuata
Q . × fernowi TreleaseQ . alba
Q. × bernardensis W. WolfQ . montana

Similarity to Quercus alba

Both Quercus stellata and Q. alba are in a section of Quercus called the white oaks. [9] In the white oak section, Q. stellata is a sister taxon with Quercus alba . [10] Q. stellata is sold and distributed as white oak. One identifiable difference between the two trees is that Q. stellata is 'hairy' on the underside of the leaf. [11]

A sister group or sister taxon is a phylogenetic term denoting the closest relatives of another given unit in an evolutionary tree. The expression is most easily illustrated by a cladogram:

<i>Quercus alba</i> species of plant

Quercus alba, the white oak, is one of the preeminent hardwoods of eastern and central North America. It is a long-lived oak, native to eastern and central North America and found from Minnesota, Ontario, Quebec, and southern Maine south as far as northern Florida and eastern Texas. Specimens have been documented to be over 450 years old.

Distribution and habitat

Q. stellata is found in Southeastern United States, in the coast states from Massachusetts, to Texas, and inland to Iowa. Normally found at the edge of a forest, it typically grows in dry, sandy areas, deficient of nutrients. [11]

Southeastern United States Region

The Southeastern United States is broadly, the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It comprises at least a core of states on the lower Atlantic seaboard and eastern Gulf Coast. Expansively, it includes everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Ohio River and the 36°30' parallel, and as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana. There is no official U.S. government definition of the region, though various agencies and departments use different definitions.

Iowa State of the United States of America

Iowa is a state in the Midwestern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states; Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest and Minnesota to the north.


Because of its ability to grow in dry sites, attractive crown, and strong horizontal branches, it is used in urban forestry. It is resistant to decay, so it is used for railroad ties, siding, planks, construction timbers, stair risers and treads, flooring, pulp, veneer, particle board, fuel, and its namesake fence posts. It is used for wildlife food for deer, turkeys, squirrels, and other rodents, but because the nuts contain tannin, it is toxic to cattle. [7]

Fire ecology

Q. stellata has the ability to survive fires by having thicker bark. It is useful for fire surveys where the tree rings are used to get a fire history of an area. A tree ring survey of 36 trees in Illinois provided a 226-year tree ring record that indicated that many Q. stellata persisted through annual fire return intervals of 1.44 fires/year for over 100 years. [12]

Related Research Articles

<i>Quercus montana</i> species of plant

Quercus montana, the chestnut oak, is a species of oak in the white oak group, Quercus sect. Quercus. It is native to the eastern United States, where it is one of the most important ridgetop trees from southern Maine southwest to central Mississippi, with an outlying northwestern population in southern Michigan. It is also sometimes called "rock oak" because of its presence in montane and other rocky habitats. As a consequence of its dry habitat and ridgetop exposure, it is not usually a large tree, typically 18–22 m (59–72 ft) tall; occasional specimens growing in better conditions can however become large, with trees up to 40–43 m (131–141 ft) tall known. They tend to have a similar spread of 18–22 m (59–72 ft). A 10-year-old sapling grown in full sun will stand about 5 m (16 ft) tall. This species is often an important canopy species in an oak-heath forest.

<i>Quercus marilandica</i> species of plant

Quercus marilandica, the blackjack oak, is a small oak, one of the red oak group Quercus sect. Lobatae. It is native to the eastern and central United States, from Long Island to Florida, west as far as Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. There are reports of a few isolated populations in southern Michigan, but these appear to represent introductions.

<i>Quercus muehlenbergii</i> species of plant

Quercus muehlenbergii, the chinkapin oak, is an oak in the white oak group. The species was often called Quercus acuminata in older literature. Quercus muehlenbergii, is native to eastern and central North America, ranging from Vermont west to Wisconsin and south to South Carolina, western Florida, New Mexico, and northeastern Mexico from Coahuila south to Hidalgo.

<i>Quercus virginiana</i> species of plant

Quercus virginiana, also known as the southern live oak, is an evergreen oak tree native to the southeastern United States. Though many other species are loosely called live oak, the southern live oak is particularly iconic of the Old South. Many very large and old specimens of live oak can be found today in the deep southern United States.

<i>Quercus agrifolia</i> species of plant

Quercus agrifolia, the California live oak or coast live oak, is a highly variable, often shrubby evergreen oak tree, a type of live oak, native to the California Floristic Province. It grows west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range from Mendocino County, California, south to northern Baja California in Mexico. It is classified in the red oak section of oaks.

<i>Quercus wislizeni</i> species of plant

Quercus wislizeni, known by the common name interior live oak, is an evergreen oak, highly variable and often shrubby, found in many areas of California in the United States continuing south into northern Baja California in Mexico. It generally occurs in foothills, being most abundant in the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada, but also widespread in the Pacific Coast Ranges ─ where since 1980 it has been known as a separate species Quercus parvula ─ and the San Gabriel Mountains. It was named for its collector, Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus (1810–1889).

<i>Quercus douglasii</i> species of plant

Quercus douglasii, known as blue oak, is a species of oak endemic to California, common in the Coast Ranges and foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is occasionally known as mountain oak and iron oak.

<i>Quercus gambelii</i> species of plant

Quercus gambelii, with the common name Gambel oak, is a deciduous small tree or large shrub that is widespread in the foothills and lower mountain elevations of western North America. It is also regionally called scrub oak, oak brush, and white oak.

<i>Quercus berberidifolia</i> species of plant

Quercus berberidifolia, the California scrub oak, is a small evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubby oak in the white oak section of Quercus. It is a native of the scrubby hills of California, and is a common member of chaparral ecosystems.

<i>Quercus lyrata</i> species of plant

Quercus lyrata, the overcup oak, is an oak in the white oak group. It is native to lowland wetlands in the eastern and south-central United States, in all the coastal states from New Jersey to Texas, inland as far as Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois. There are historical reports of it growing in Iowa, but the species appears to have been extirpated there.

<i>Quercus polymorpha</i> species of plant

Quercus polymorpha, the Mexican white oak, Monterrey oak or netleaf white oak, is a North American species of oak. It is widespread in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, and known from a single population in the United States but widely planted as an ornamental.

<i>Quercus turbinella</i> species of plant

Quercus turbinella is a North American species of oak known by the common names shrub oak, turbinella oak, shrub live oak, and gray oak. It is native to Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada in the western United States. It also occurs in northern Mexico.

<i>Quercus arizonica</i> species of plant

Quercus arizonica, the Arizona white oak, is a North American tree species in the beech family. It is found in Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa, and Durango.

<i>Quercus pacifica</i> species of plant

Quercus pacifica is a species of oak known by the common names island scrub oak, Channel Island scrub oak, and Pacific oak.

<i>Quercus pungens</i> species of plant

Quercus pungens, commonly known as the sandpaper oak or scrub oak, is a North American species evergreen or sub-evergreen shrub or small tree in the white oak group. There is one recognised variety, Quercus pungens var. vaseyana, the Vasey shin oak. Sandpaper oak hybridizes with gray oak in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and Texas.

<i>Quercus grisea</i> species of plant

Quercus grisea, commonly known as the gray oak, shin oak or scrub oak, is a North American species deciduous or evergreen shrub or medium-sized tree in the white oak group. It is native to the mountains of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It hybridizes with four other oak species where the ranges of each overlap, the Arizona white oak, the Gambel oak, the Mohr oak and the sandpaper oak.

<i>Quercus incana</i> species of plant

Quercus incana is a species of oak known by the common names bluejack oak, upland willow oak, sandjack oak, and cinnamon oak. It is native to the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains of the United States, from Virginia around Florida to Texas and inland to Oklahoma and Arkansas.

<i>Quercus sinuata</i> species of plant

Quercus sinuata, the bastard oak, bastard white oak, or Durand oak, is a North American species of oak. It is native to northern Mexico as well as to the southeastern and south-central United States.

Quercus margarettae, the sand post oak or dwarf post oak, is a North American species of oak in the beech family. It is native to the southeastern and south-central United States from Virginia to Florida and west as far as Texas and Oklahoma. There are historical reports of the species growing in New York State, but it has not been seen there in years.


  1. "Quercus stellata". iucnredlist.org. iucnredlist. 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2017. data
  2. "Quercus stellata". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew via The Plant List.
  3. "Quercus stellata". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014.
  4. illustration from Histoire des arbres forestiers de l'Amérique septentrionale, considérés principalement sous les rapports de leur usages dans les arts et de leur introduction dans le commerce ... Par F.s André-Michaux. Paris, L. Haussmann,1812-13. François André Michaux (book author), Pierre-Joseph Redouté (illustrator), Renard (engraver)
  5. 1 2 3 Nixon, Kevin C. (1997). "Quercus stellata". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee. Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 3. New York and Oxford via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  6. Mahoney, Kevin D. "Latin Definition for: stellatus, stellata, stellatum (ID: 35675) - Latin Dictionary and Grammar Resources - Latdict". latin-dictionary.net. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  7. 1 2 Stransky, John J. "Quercus stellata Wangenh.--post oak." Silvics of North America 2 (1990): 738-743.
  8. "Tropicos - quercus stellata Search". www.tropicos.org. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  9. Nixon, KC (1993-01-01). "Infrageneric classification of Quercus (Fagaceae) and typification of sectional names" (PDF). annales des sciences forestières. 50 (Supplement): 25s–34s. doi:10.1051/forest:19930701. ISSN   0003-4312.
  10. Whittemore, A. T.; Schaal, B. A. (1991-03-15). "Interspecific gene flow in sympatric oaks" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 88 (6): 2540–2544. doi:10.1073/pnas.88.6.2540. ISSN   0027-8424. PMC   51268 . PMID   11607170.
  11. 1 2 Stein, John D., Denise Binion, and R. E. Acciavatti. "Field guide to native oak species of eastern North America." (2003): 96-97.
  12. McClain, William E.; Esker, Terry L.; Edgin, Bob R.; Spyreas, Greg; Ebinger, John E. (2010-12-01). "Fire History of a Post Oak (Quercus stellata Wang.) Woodland in Hamilton County, Illinois". Castanea. 75 (4): 461–474. doi:10.2179/09-007.1. ISSN   0008-7475.