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Species – White Oak

Species Information - White Oak

Species Information

The white oak is one of the pre-eminent hardwoods in all of eastern North America. It’s a long-lived oak belonging to the family Fagaceae. Some specimens of White Oak appear to be more than 450 years old. The famous Wye Oak in Wye Mills, Maryland, was around 450 years old when it was knocked down by a thunderstorm in 2002.

The term “White Oak” is an interesting one, as it’s rare to find one of these trees with actual white bark. Typically the bark is a light gray. If grown in the forest, the tree is known to grow to remarkable heights, while in the open it can develop a gorgeous, broad-topped crown with striking wide angles.

The tree’s lower branches tend to extend out rather far, laterally, parallel to the ground. It’s not uncommon for a White Oak to be as wide as it is tall; however, those that grow at high altitudes are likely to only become nothing more than shrubs.

One of the unique features of White Oak is that halfway up the trunk the bark tends to form overlapping scales, making it easy to identify the tree.

The White Oak is often mistaken for swamp white oak, or even the bur oak. In fact, White Oak is known to hybridize with bur oak, post oak, and chestnut oak.

Native Americans used the tree’s acorns for food.

Scientific Names

The scientific name for White Oak is Quercus alba.

Origin

White Oak is native to eastern North America and found from Southern Quebec, all the way to eastern Minnesota, and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida. It’s a fairly tolerant tree, and can be found in a variety of habitats, including on ridges, in valleys, in both dry and moist habitats, and in moderately acid and alkaline soils.

Crossover Names

N/A.

Janka Rating

The Janka rating for the White Oak is 1,350.

White Oak Janka Scale Rating 1,350

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.

Appearance

The heartwood of White Oak is a light to medium brown. It’s commonly found with an olive-like cast. The sapwood is nearly white to light brown, and does not always have a sharply demarcated line separating it from the heartwood. Quartersawn sections of wood show ray fleck patterns. While Red Oak tends to be slightly redder, that does not offer a reliable way to determine the specific type of oak you’re working with.

It is slightly more expensive than Red Oak, and the price, overall, is fairly moderate for a domestic hardwood. Thicker planks, and quartersawn boards, are slightly more expensive.

Workability

White Oak works well with both hand and machine tools. It has moderately high shrinkage values, which results in average dimensional stability, particularly in flatsawn boards. It can react with iron (particularly when wet) and can cause staining and discoloration. It responds well to steam bending, and glues/stains/finishes well.

It’s rated as very durable in terms of rot resistance, and is frequently used in boatbuilding.

CLICK HERE to view all of our White Oak hardwood flooring.

Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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