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Overcup Oak

Botanical Name:  Quercus lyrata
Family:  Fagaceae
Common Name:  overcup oak

Type:  Tree
Native Range:  Central and southern United States
Zone:  5 to 9
Height:  40 to 60 feet
Spread:  40 to 60 feet
Bloom Time:  March to April
Bloom Description:  Yellow catkins (male); Red spikes (female)
Sun:  Full sun
Water:  Medium to wet
Maintenance:  Low
Suggested Use:  Shade tree
Flower:  Insignificant
Leaf:  Good Fall
Fruit:  Showy
Tolerate:  Erosion, clay soil, wet soil

Habit:  It gets its common name from the distinctive bur-like acorn cup that typically encloses 2/3 to almost the entire nut. It is a medium sized deciduous oak (part of the white oak group) that typically grows to 40-60' tall with a straight trunk and broad rounded crown. Deep green leaves (6-10” long and to 4" wide) with fuzzy white undersides each have 5-9 deep rounded lobes. Leaves turn shades of yellow-brown (sometimes with orange and red) in fall. Female flowers give way to acorns (to 1" long) that mature in September to October. Overcup oaks usually do not begin bearing acorns until 25-30 years old. Slightly shaggy gray to grayish-brown bark on mature trees is reminiscent of white oak.

Culture:  Winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-9 where it is best grown in acidic, moist to wet loams in full sun. Tolerates some part shade but not full shade. Tolerates wet poorly drained soils and occasional flooding. This is a bottomland tree that is native to floodplain forests, lowlands, and along swamps and bayous in the southeastern U.S. It is particularly prevalent in coastal plain swamp forests from Texas to Florida north to New Jersey and up the Mississippi River valley to Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana. Ornamentally insignificant flowers bloom in March or April (males in slender yellow catkins to 4-6" long and females in short few-flowered reddish spikes).

Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems. Oaks in general are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils.

Notes:  Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word lyre a stringed instrument in reference to the lyre-shaped leaves.

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