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Overcup OakQuercus lyrata

  • Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata
  • Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata
  • Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata

The overcup oak tree is a long-lived, very sturdy shade tree that will thrive in a wide variety of soil conditions. Long overlooked by growers, the tree is gaining popularity and has been made more readily available for home landscapes.

Because of its size, shape, adaptability and hardiness, the overcup oak makes an excellent urban street tree.

Hardiness Zones

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

Tree Type

This is a shade tree, featuring a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight.

Mature Size

The overcup oak grows to a height of 45–70' and a spread of around 35–50' 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 and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The overcup oak grows in acidic, loamy, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils. While it prefers well-drained conditions, it can withstand considerable flooding.


This tree:
  • Transplants easily.
  • Features alternating, simple dark green leaves that are 6–8" long and have 3–5 pairs of obtuse, acutish lobes. They turn a rich yellow-brown in the fall.
  • Yields acorns that are round and ¾–1" in diameter with a cap that covers the nut almost entirely.
  • Develops uniform branching, with upswept lower branches minimizing the need for pruning.
  • Adapts well to inhospitable soil conditions.
  • Grows in an oval to rounded shape with an open crown.

Wildlife Value

Overcup oak acorns are at the top of the food preference list for squirrels and smaller rodents as well as larger animals such as wild turkeys, hogs and white-tailed deer.


This is a native tree found in the swampland of the Atlantic coast. The first scientific observations concerning the species were made in 1786. The overcup oak, so named for its acorn cap that covers almost the entire fruit, was heavily logged for its strong wood.