The white oak (Quercus alba) is a deciduous large native tree common in the eastern and central part of North America and is an important source of hardwood timber. Pyramidal shaped when young, the White Oak can grow into a majestic tree with wide branches and a open crown. Although it is called a White oak, the bark of the tree is usually light ash grey and becomes scaly with age, often with a reddish cast. Twigs are fairly tout, green to reddish-green when young (becoming red, then gray with age). The leaves have 7 to 9 lobes and are more deeply-cut than those of the English oak. They usually turn red or brown in the fall. Some dead leaves may remain on the tree throughout winter. Acorns are ¾” with a short stalk and shallow cap.
The Mercer White Oak was a large oak tree located on the Princeton Battlefield. During the Battle of Princeton, general Mercer was stabbed by an English soldier’s bayonet near the white oak. A silhouette of the Mercer Oak is on the seal of Mercer County and the town of Princeton. In March 2000, strong winds brought down this 300-year-old tree. Luckily, clones of the Mercer Oak were collected in the 1970s and a white oak in Marquand Park was grown from on of these clones.