The shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria), is a medium sized deciduous tree native to this area of the country. The tree does not have the familiar oak shaped leaf of the red or the white oak but narrow oblong glossy laurel-shaped leaves that turn brown in the fall and usually stay on the tree throughout the winter. Mature bark develops scaly ridges and furrows (vertical grooves separated by ridges). Round acorns have scaly cups and are an important food source for animals in the forest. The shingle oak is supposed to be more pest resistant than other oak trees but it is not as popular as other oaks because it lacks majesty or bright color. The leaves of Q. imbricaria are the largest of all untoothed and unlobed oaks in N. America. Like all Fagales many leaves are retained during the winter. Early settlers made roof shingles from the wood giving this tree its species name. The epithet imbricaria means “overlapping”, in reference to its use as a shingle. The genus name Quercus is derived from the Proto-Italic “kwerkus” referring to oak. Quercus is the Latin name for “oak”. The Latin name for acorn is ‘glans’ which is morphologicall similar to the tip of the mammalian penis also called a ‘glans’. The leaves of Q. imbricaria are the largest of all untoothed and unlobed oaks in N. America. Like all Fagales many leaves are retained during the winter. The Shingle Oak was introduced to Europe by John Fraser in 1786.
Common name: Shingle Oak, Northern Laurel Oak
Scientific Name (famly and order): Quercus imbricaria A. Michaux (Fagaceae, Fagales)
Species Origin: Central and Eastern North America
New Jersey Status: USDA Native
Habit: 50’ – 80’ tall; bole 1 – 2’ diameter.
Habitat: Zones 4 -8; rich woods and riverbanks.
Trunk/Stem: Bark gray-brown, smooth becoming fissured with age.
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple, Alternate. Oblong to lanceolate, 4 – 7 “ long x 3” wide, widest in the middle, ending in a fine bristle like tip. As the leaves are less stiff than other oaks the long leaves droop gracefully., Above young leaves yellow becoming glossy dark green smooth; below leaves gray and densely hairy. The leaf blade edges are rolled under; the margins are wavy and smooth. Leaves often persist into the winter. The leaves are never lobed. The leaf base tapers to a short downy petiole (3/4”)
Flowers: Monoecious. Flowers appear on old or new growth; staminate catkins pendent and clustered; its flowers comprise a 4 – 7 lobed calyx which encloses 6 stamens. The pistillate flowers are solitary or on few to many flowered spikes which form in the axial of new leaves. Individual flowers consist of a 6 lobed calyx surrounding 3-celled ovary; the whole is partly covered by the involucre.
Fruits and seeds: Fruit acorn, ¾” wide, round, enclosed, 1/3 – ½ by a relatively deep cup made of hairy scales. Acorn borne singly or in pairs on a stout stalk. It ripens in two years.