Bur Oak, Burr Oak, Mossycup Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Quercus (KWER-kus) (Info)
Species: macrocarpa (ma-kro-KAR-pa) (Info)
Synonym:Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa
Synonym:Quercus mandanensis
Synonym:Quercus macrocarpa var. oliviformis
Synonym:Quercus macrocarpa var. olivaeformis



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

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)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

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

From seed; direct sow after last frost

From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


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

Carlsbad, California

Delta, Colorado

Pensacola, Florida

Chicago, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Hampton, Illinois

Hanna City, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois

Urbana, Illinois

Westchester, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Kingman, Kansas

Clermont, Kentucky

Frankfort, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky (2 reports)

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Paris, Kentucky

Versailles, Kentucky

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Halifax, Massachusetts

Harper Woods, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Saint Louis, Missouri

Waverly, Missouri

Helena, Montana

Lincoln, Nebraska

Belfield, North Dakota

Cincinnati, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Blairsville, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Austin, Texas (2 reports)

Dallas, Texas

De Leon, Texas

Georgetown, Texas

Hunt, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Manchaca, Texas

Mc Kinney, Texas

Moody, Texas

San Angelo, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Waxahachie, Texas

Willis, Texas

Appleton, Wisconsin

Cambridge, Wisconsin

Mc Farland, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 24, 2018, Chaz111 from Rockford, IL wrote:

The Bur oak is in deed a mighty oak. I like the old school charm and strong ruggedness of this mighty tree. I like how this tree have a huge trunk and strong limbs. Please when planting give this tree room to grow, don't plant under power lines, to close to your home/barn. As with most trees do not over water you will drown your tree roots. I plant my trees with room to grow adding compost and love and watch my trees grow. Trees need 1.Sunlight, 2.Rain 3. Good soil. Trees are my collection, God's creation.


On Jun 30, 2016, Timberplot from Blairsville, PA wrote:

I had planted a dozen Bur Oak specimen trees twelve years ago on several sites which are doing well. This mid-western native is adapted to the East and earns a second look when viewing specimens which exhibit winged stems, large leaves and a unique acorn cap. While the trees I've planted are still relatively young, I suspect each will develop it's broad-spreading crown in time as they were given adequate space when planted with no aerial competition.


On Nov 10, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

A wonderful, beautiful large tree, common in the Midwest USA in oak-hickory forest, savannah, and floodplains. It has a good coarse and macho texture. Thick, furrowed brown bark is resistant to prairie fires. Very adaptable to many soils, acid or alkaline. offered in containers at native plant nurseries and some large, diverse, conventional nurseries will grow some despite it developing a large taproot.


On Jun 4, 2010, MTVineman from Helena, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

Just brought back around 10 little Burr Oaks from Minnesota to my home here in Helena, Montana. There are already others growing here and they are doing exceptionally well. I have my little ones in pots right now but am planning on planting them in the ground asap just to get the roots established at least. They will be in a nice, protected spot and I suspect they will do excellent here. If they can grow to the size they do in Pope County, Minnesota they will certainly do fine here too. I think our zones are the same. We are a lot higher in altitude but I'm not sure that will make much of a difference. I can make them happy and that's all that counts, eh? I am planting native Minnesota Grapevines and Jack In The Pulpits around and under them as well that I also brought back from MN. Also s... read more


On Mar 16, 2007, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted a Bur Oak in my yard over 4 summers ago and it has done really great. Last year it even grew 2.5'. All I did was fertilize it and no extra water was given outside the rain. That has me a bit perplexed as I had not counted on it outpacing my Swamp White Oak in yearly growth. It gets full sun and has the typical very corky stems of a young healthy Bur Oak. I think regarding the large sized leaves found on the tree in the forest preserve, that has to do with the amount of sunlight it gets. Mine had big leaves after being grown in container fields but the next season the leaves were normal size when having little competition for sunlight. The extreme corkiness and growth are what are unusual. No disease that has attacked many other plants in my yard has ever hurt this tree.... read more


On Jan 1, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

If forced to choose one tree to plant, of all the shade trees, I believe it would have to be the bur oak...

For genetics (it ranges from Manitoba, following the Great Lakes over to Nova Scotia, then spreading west and south through the Midwestern states down to the Gulf Coast in Texas); it is truly a cosmopolitan species, growing in almost all soils and moisture regimes.

For longevity and massive size (living 500+ years if left alone, 75-100 tall and usually wider than high); it is a giant and a patriarch of woodland and prairie. The national champion resides not far from me, in Bourbon County KY.

For character (the largest leaves and seeds among native oaks, with deeply ridged and furrowed bark); its muted fall colors detract nothing from the... read more


On Dec 14, 2006, Cuda from San Antonio, TX wrote:

I have two Bur Oaks in my front yard in San Antonio, TX. Both are fully mature, one about 25 years old, the other about 21-22.

These are beautiful trees with only four inherent drawbacks: 1) Lots of large leaves that shed very slowly over a 6 to 8 week period (good for the compost pile but weekly cleanup is required); 2) Lots of dense shade under the trees which makes growing lawns and underplantings a challenge (the shade is welcome in the summer heat); 3) Prolific producers of very large acorns you can twist an ankle on (good conversation pieces while the victim is lying on the ground and very pretty on the tree); 4) They drop a lot of small branches in the 1/4" to 1" diameter category (just mulch them up with the lawn mower).

I've especially had a probl... read more


On Sep 11, 2006, IrisLover79 from Westchester, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I found one of these trees growing in my local forest preserve. What's unusual about it, though, is it wasn't very tall or round, but the leaves on it were HUGE! Each leaf was over a foot long! But the trunk was so skinny! I was doing a report on leaves in 8th grade and took one of these huge leaves to my teacher. She asked me to get her a few more and she laminated them. I don't know if the specimen I found is a freak or what!



On Mar 13, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This tree can make unusual shapes over time. One tree at my house has lost almost all of its branches on one side and only grows from the other side. Another has leaned over the roof to the west as it struggles to escape a larger (red?) oak. It is more brittle than other trees in my yard, dropping lots of branchlets. But it is unusual and may hawks from a earlier era when it was the only true Savannah tree compare to acadia of Africa. It is fire resistant, having thick bark and a deep taproot that gets water, even in droughts. Its tough leaves makes it harder for animals to graze on, so it is not the first choice for animals to graze on. Also there may had been a subspecies that is more like a dwarf tree or a shrub that resists fires and forms hummocks. I read once in a magnizine that some... read more


On Aug 28, 2005, pavulon from Medford, WI wrote:

A great tree personally seen growing as far north as Ashland, WI (Lake Superior).


On Jun 7, 2005, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

There are several bur oaks growing in a university research park in my city. They are attractive, slow-growing and long-lived. With their deep tap roots they can withstand drought conditions once established. One thing to remember is to give them sufficient space; they can grow nearly as wide as they are tall.


On Dec 6, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The Bur Oak is very tolerant of harsh climates. It can handle dry conditions and poor soils. It is a large tree - reaching up to 80' when mature. Foliage is a deep green in summer, but not especially attractive in autumn. Makes a nice shade tree, but plantings underneath require extra care.