SCIENTIFIC NAME: Quercus
COMMON NAME(S): Oaks
FAMILY: FAGACEAE - Beech family
ORIGIN: Worldwide, over 500 spp.
HABITAT: Woods, cultivated landscapes
CHARACTERISTICS: Bark scaly to deeply furrowed
LEAVES: Alternate, simple, variously-shaped, lobed, toothed or entire at the margin, sometimes with a sharp bristle at the tip of the teeth or lobes, papery or tough and leathery
FLOWERS: Inconspicuous, separate male and female, the male on hanging clusters (catkins), the female in very short spikes
FLOWERING SEASON: Spring
FRUITS: Acorns: nuts partially or completely covered by a warty-surfaced cup
ALLERGENIC PRINCIPLES: Pollen allergens
ALLERGENIC PROPERTIES: Respiratory
COMMENTS: Oaks are the most important hardwood trees of southern forests and important street trees as well throughout the region. All produce significant quantities of windborne pollen that contributes to the misery of hay fever sufferers. The more common species in the southeastern United States include: Live oak (Q. virginiana Mill.), an evergreen species with tough, leathery leaves; Chestnut oak and Swamp chestnut oak (Q. prinus L. and Q. michauxii Nutt), two deciduous species with coarsely-toothed elliptic leaves; Southern red oak (Q. falcata Michx), deciduous with deeply-lobed leaves that turn bright red in the the fall and Shumard oak (Q. shumardii Buckl.), also deciduous and red in fall, with deeply-lobed leaves that are smooth below. There are many additional species native to the southeastern United States, as well as cultivated exotics used as shade trees.