Although it’s popular for parks and boulevards, the Willow oak, or Quercus phellos, is underutilized in the home landscape. Admittedly, it would take a large property to accommodate a tree that will reach 70 feet in height and 40 to 50 feet in width. Yet, if the space is available, you couldn't find a better shade tree. The pale green willowy leaves create a dense shade spring and summer before turning bright yellow before winter. These handsome leaves give the Willow oak the finest texture of any oak and makes a wonderful contrast to Plane trees (Sycamores), Maples and Sweetgums. The leaves are paler underneath which produces a shimmering quality in the breeze.  The form is also superior with a pyramidal shape in youth that gives way to a handsome rounded canopy in middle age and a majestic fullness in maturity with lower branches drooping towards the ground. Willow oak is one of the best of the classic shade trees. It is tough and tolerant of poor soils and harsh urban conditions. It grows in the UK and all across the southern half of the US. It works equally well in temperate Australia and New Zealand. Typically Willow oaks will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.

Willow oak

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2016