Raising Your Willow Oak

About this Tree

               This tree is a native oak (Quercus phellos), with a natural habitat in bottomlands, floodplains and adjacent slopes. It grows to 40-60 foot in height, 30-40 foot in spread.  It is pyramidal in youth, developing a dense oblong-oval to rounded crown in maturity.  It grows at a medium rate, one to two foot per year.

Michael Dirr notes it can be “a difficult tree to train to a central leader and requires considerable pruning in early years to make a respectable crown. In the landscape, [it] is finer textured than most and makes a splendid avenue, street or boulevard tree.”

A Suitable Site

  The willow oak transplants more readily than most oak species because of a more fibrous root system; it prefers moist and well-drained soil but can adapt to virtually impossible habitats.

Observations from Audubon Park:

This tree is less angular and less bold than mature chestnut oaks, and red oaks, and less rigidly upright than Pin oaks, although it can be mistaken for Pin Oak in outline.  It can have a slightly multi-stemmed look, but stays relatively narrow and is suitable for smaller street sites.

Our willow oaks can be seen at 908 Audubon Parkway, at 1134 Audubon Parkway, at 1121 Audubon Parkway, and newly planted in 2008 at 1111 Audubon Parkway.  There is also a large willow oak in Oriole Park, on the side adjacent to the Maxwell back lot, nearer to Thrush. The trees below show the winter silhouette from a young tree, to a dense tree with multiple leaders and finally a well-developed street tree.

In the foreground, a Young Tree Planted in 2008   

 A tree that hasn't been pruned to a central leader for height.
It has congested center somewhat like a Zelkova.

A Street Tree with central trunk and graceful shape.
The fine branching resembles that of pin oak.