Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Swamp White Oak
Quercus bicolor

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

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


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


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

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

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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4 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Hamburglar 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, so I had to put a net around it until ready to limb it up.

I have noticed this year that swamp white is now available almost everywhere locally. Home Depot and Lowes both have 12 ft specimens, as do the local nurseries. Seems to have become popular in a hurry. I can see why with its adaptability and white oak characteristics. Nothing wrong with buying it smaller though so you can train the leader and lower limb structure yourself. Also guessing that the smaller, container-grown specimen will catch up with the larger B&B version quickly. The pin and to a lesser-extent northern red and scarlet have ruled this area as far as landscape oaks go. So it is nice to see a native member of the white group finally start to gain some traction in the landscape industry.

Positive Rickwebb 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.

Negative Malus2006 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.

Positive ViburnumValley 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.

Positive Glowclubbr 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.


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

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