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Willow OakQuercus phellos

  • Willow Oak
Often referred to as a “handsome tree,” this member of the mighty oak family comes with a stand-out feature: willow-like leaves. The spear-shaped foliage appears in the spring with a light/bright green color, becomes dark green in the summer, and turns shades of yellow bronze-orange, yellow-brown and russet-red in the fall.

The willow oak is frequently planted along streets and in parks and golf courses because of its size, striking appearance, and relatively fast growth.

Hardiness Zones

The willow oak can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–9. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The willow oak grows to a height of 40–60' and a spread of 30–40' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The willow oak grows in in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils.


This tree:
  • Provides great color, with leaves starting out bright green in the spring, shifting to a deeper summertime green, and then turning to fall shades of yellow bronze-orange, yellow-brown and russet-red.
  • Features spear-shaped leaves that are 2–5" long , each with a tiny bristle at the tip.
  • Yields acorns that are round and up to ½" long with a thin saucer-like cap.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape in its youth then an oblong-oval to rounded shape at maturity.
  • Tolerates poorly drained soil.
  • Transplants more easily than most oaks.

Wildlife Value

Willow oak acorns are a top food preference for whitetail deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, quail and some songbirds. Wood ducks and mallards also eat the acorns when stands of these trees are flooded.


The first scientific observation regarding this tree was made in 1723. The wood has been used since pioneering days for newel posts, pulpits, pews, bar tops, wagon axles, stairs, railing, balustrades, bedsteads and flour barrels.