Quercus laurifolia

Common Name: laurel oak 
Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Clay Soil

Culture

Best grown in rich, humusy, acidic, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils including poorly-drained wet clays. First respectable crop of acorns may occur as early as 15 years. Not reliably winter hardy in the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Quercus laurifolia, commonly called laurel oak, is a medium sized, mostly deciduous oak of the red oak group that typically grows to 40-60’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a broad, rounded crown. Scaly, gray trunk to 3-4’ diameter. It is native to coastal plains and Piedmont from Virginia to Florida west to Texas, most frequently being found in low woods, swamp margins and along streams and rivers. Insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear in spring as the leaves emerge. Fruits are rounded acorns (to 1” long), with shallow cups that extend to approximately 1/4 the acorn length. The acorns do not ripen until fall of the second year, as is the case with most oaks in the red oak group. Acorns are an important source of food for wildlife. Narrow, elliptic to oblong, mostly smooth-margined, leathery, glossy dark green leaves (2-4” long) are pale green beneath. Leaves are semi-evergreen (remain green throughout the fall and most of the winter) in warm coastal climates, but are deciduous further north. Synonymous with Q. obtusa. Q. hemisphaerica is very similar, but generally exhibits more evergreen tendencies.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees.

Specific epithet is in reference to the laurel-like appearance of the leaves.

Problems

Laurel oak is considered to be a low-maintence tree with good pest resistance. Oaks in general are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils.

Garden Uses

A medium shade tree for large lawns or parks. Not recommended for the St. Louis area where it is marginally winter hardy.