Tree 25

Quercus phellos ‘Trenton hardy’

This handsome oak with willow-like leaves is a shade tree that prefers a warmer clime than most oaks. Its foliage is light to bright green in summer, and yellow, yellow-brown and russet in fall. The spear-shaped leaves are 2–5″ long, dark green above and light green below, and each has a tiny bristle at the tip. It yields acorns that are round and up to ½” long with a thin saucer-like cap. It is a rapid grower, and taking a pyramidal shape in its youth, then an oblong-oval to rounded shape at maturity. It transplants more easily than most oaks. Tolerant of poorly drained soil, it is most commonly found growing on lowland floodplains, often along streams. It prefers acid soil and full sun, and grows to 40′-60′ with a 35′ spread. It was bequeathed the name Trenton Hardy because it is at the northern end of its range.

Willow oak acorns are an important food source for whitetail deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, quail and some songbirds. Wood ducks and mallards also eat the acorns when stands of these trees are flooded. The acorns are a preferred food source for blue jays, being of small to medium size.