Swamp White Oak

Quercus bicolor

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Quercus (KWER-kus) (Info)
Species: bicolor (BY-kul-ur) (Info)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:




Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring



Provides winter interest

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fort Collins, Colorado

Chicago, Illinois

Dekalb, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Johnston, Iowa

Benton, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Bel Air, Maryland

Halifax, Massachusetts

Middleboro, Massachusetts

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Cincinnati, Ohio

Solon, Ohio

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Christiana, Tennessee

Orem, Utah

Alexandria, Virginia

Cambridge, Wisconsin

Elmwood, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Pardeeville, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 5, 2014, Hamburglar from Solon, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I really like this tree. Wanted to plant one two years ago and could not find it locally, so ordered a 5 ft whip from Forestfarm. It was low maintenance from the get-go and did not require a ton of supplemental watering. The thing is growing like crazy. Put on 3-4 ft in height the second growing season alone, has bushed out nicely with new growth, and even the trunk looks much more stout than when I planted. Really impressed with the vigor. It has been labeled as a slow grower in a lot of tree reference books, but the books need to be updated. I have a 12 ft diameter ring around the plant that I top-dress with leaf compost. The tree seems to dig it. Appears to be adaptable to wet and dry conditions - we have had both. Only problem I have is the deer are chomping on the new growth... read more


On Dec 17, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

A good quality shade tree that has been becoming popular since the 1980's, offered at quite a few big nurseries. Most of the trees I have seen planted in Illinois or Pennsylvania are still young. It grows fairly fast of usually 1.5 to 2 ft/yr in most landscapes; to 3 ft/yr in rich wetlands. It does not develop a taproot, which is why nurseries like to grow it B&B. It normally holds much of its leaves much of the winter. The only problem is that the soil should be acid. I don't know where the breaking point is on pH. Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL reported that it could adapt to some alkaline soil after awhile. Most Chicagoland soils have a pH about 6.8 to 7.1, where I have seen them planted there. I think this species is alright up to around pH 7.0.


On Apr 6, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

The main reason why this species is not grown more often becomes clear when the leaves fall during fall - there are hundreds of woody galls that started out as growth on new twigs, making the trees look ugly. The galls lasted until the branches fall off, unlike leaf galls which fall off with the old leaves.


On Jan 14, 2006, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Swamp white oak is a great plant. It is not often enough known and grown because other species have easier names to remember (pin oak, red oak, white oak, etc.) and are considered superior in fall color.

This is an exceptional plant for tolerance to a wide variety of conditions, from street tree environments; to dry hillsides on clayey soils; to floodplain bottomlands along creeks and rivers. It also is one of the easiest oaks to transplant that nobody knows about.

Swamp white oak is a very stately tree, with the broad spreading canopy of white or bur oak. The exfoliating bark on younger branches makes for an easy field ID feature.


On Sep 7, 2003, Glowclubbr from Silver Spring, MD wrote:

Grows up to 3 feet a year in the Windsor, Ontario region.
Keep base of plant free of weeds and turf for establishment.
It is drought-tolerant but also grows wild in flood plains. I have seen trees up to 100 feet tall. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED in all larger landscapes. It is also clay-tolerant, and makes a great street tree.