South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fagaceae : Quercus macrocarpa

Fagaceae : Quercus macrocarpa


Download Seedling: Seedling of oak, that was fall sown, growing in research garden near Brookings, S.D. (72 KB)

Download Mature plant (1.5 MB)

Download Male flowers (604 KB)

Download Female flowers (329 KB)

Download Bark (1.1 MB)

Download Leaf (553 KB)

Download Acorn (174 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Bur oak

Native American Name

Dakota: Uskuyecha-hu; Lakota: uskúyeča hú, útahu čháŋ


Quercus macrocarpa is a deciduous coarse shrub to large tree, with deeply furrowed bark, growing up to 30 m in height and with the trunk more than 1 m in diameter. The simple, alternate leaves are obovate, pinnately lobed, 10-25 cm long and 5-15 cm wide. The leaves are usually shiny green on the upper surface and silvery due to star-shaped hairs on the lower surface and can vary greatly in size and shape depending on location and climate. Burr oak is monoecious, the green male flowers develop in pendulous catkins, each flower with a 5-lobed calyx and 5-10 stamens. The green female flowers are solitary or in small clusters in the axils of new growth, have 6 sepals and an ovary embedded in the surrounding tissues, with styles exerted. The fruit is a nut (acorn) surrounded by a deep cup, the margins and sides often fringed, that envelops half or more of the ovoid nut that is up to 4 cm long and 4 cm wide. Burr oak flowers in April and May in upland forests and along lake shores in much of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Burr oak is a magnificent tree for any native planting. It grows slowly but lives hundreds of years. The acorns are quite tasty eaten raw or roasted. Occasionally they can taste a bit tannic, but this can be remedied by a cold-water rinse before eating. The trees attract birds and squirrels and provide shade all summer long.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed in October when they begin to fall.

Germination: Fall sowing is essential. The seeds need to be in the ground or they die.

Soils: Tolerant of most soil conditions.

Light: Full sun

Water: Tolerant of most water conditions, but grows best if the water table is not too deep.

Fagaceae : Quercus macrocarpa