Quercus phellos

willow oak

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

The handsome narrow leaves and strong stately branching habit make this tree queen of the oaks. The unusual foliage does not remind one of a typical oak. The deep green and leathery leaves are very narrow with a paler underside adding a slight shimmering quality in the breeze. Willow oak is extremely tough and tolerant of poor soils and harsh urban conditions. It is one of the best for a large elegant classic shade tree. In maturity the well branched specimen is an excellent climbing tree and the strong wood is quite supportive of the average tree house.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: pyramidal tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 25 ft. 0 in. (7.62 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 18 ft. 0 in. (5.49 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 50 ft. 0 in. (15.24 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 to 9

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun

Water Requirements: drought tolerant once established

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: variegated, silver, gold, red

Great Color Partners: dark green, chartreuse, blue

Culture Notes
This oak prefers an open area with full sun and plenty of room to grow. Plant it in a location with well-drained soil, although it will tolerate sandy sites and clay if the drainage is adequate. Once established it is drought tolerant, although in prolonged dry weather it appreciates an occasional watering. Little pruning is needed other than removing dead, broken or poorly formed limbs.