Shumard Oak

Shumard Oak

The Shumard Oak, Quercus shumardii (also known as Spotted Oak, Schneck Oak, Shumard Red Oak, and Swamp Red Oak), is one of the largest of the oak species in the red oak group (Quercus section Lobatae). It is closely related to Buckley Oak (Quercus buckleyi), Nuttall Oak (Quercus texana), and Chisos Red Oak (Quercus gravesii).

Shumard Oak is native to the Atlantic Coastal Plain primarily from North Carolina to northern Florida and west to central Texas; it is also found north in the Mississippi River Valley to central Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, Missouri, southern Illinois, Indiana, western and southern Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is found locally north to southern Michigan, southern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the extreme north of Ontario, Canada.

Mature Shumard Oak typically reach heights of 25–35 meters, trunk diameter is typically 60–100 cm, and crown width typically reaches 12–18 meters in width. Typical size varies according to region, with larger specimens occurring in the southern portions of its native range in the United States. Record Shumard Oaks have been measured at up to 42 meters tall, with crowns up to 27.5 meters in width. Young specimens generally exhibit conic or ovate crowns, with the upper crown filling in as the tree reaches maturity. Trunks are relatively straight and vertical.

The young bark of the Shumard Oak is light grey, very smooth, and very reflective. Shumard Oak bark darkens and develops ridges and furrows as it ages. There are occasionally white splotches on the bark.

Shumard Oak twigs terminate in a cluster of buds. The buds are lighter in color than the olive-green twigs. The young twig is highly reflective.

The leaves are arranged alternately and are broadly obovate with 5–9 lobes, each of which are terminated by bristle tipped teeth. The leaves mature to between 10–21 cm in length. The surfaces are glabrous, except for the tufted vein axils. They are dark green on the top, while the bottom is a slightly lighter shade of green. The leaves turn brown to red in the fall, and sometime have hues of yellow mixed in. Fall colors are relatively late; specimens in central Texas may be at their most red in early December, while Florida specimens may not color substantially until February.

Shumard Oak bears relatively large acorns, which typically reach up to 3 cm in diameter. Acorns take between 1.5 to 3 years to fully mature, and may go unnoticed during their early stages of development.

The acorns of the Shumard Oak provide food for various song birds, game birds such as wild turkey and quail, waterfowl, white-tail deer, feral hogs, and various rodents such as squirrels. The leaves and twigs can also provide browse for white-tail deer.


Oak wilt can attack all red oaks, including the Shumard Oak. Other diseases that attack Shumard Oaks are various fungi that can grow on the leaves, Powdery Mildew, canker diseases, and shoestring root.

Cultivation and uses

Shumard Oak is valued for commercial use, as a shade tree, and as a food source for various birds and mammals. It is cultivated at least as far north as Ottawa, Ontario and as far south as Lake Worth, Florida. It is tolerant of wide ranges of pH levels in soil. It is drought resistant, and prefers partial to full sunlight. Shumard Oaks begin to bear seeds at a minimum of 25 years of age, and the optimum age for seed development is 50 years of age. Shumard Oaks are known to have reached at least 480 years of age. The roots are intolerant to disturbance, so the tree should be planted in its permanent position at an early age.

Shumard Oak lumber is grouped with other Red Oak lumber for use in flooring, furniture, interior trim, molding, paneling, and cabinetry.

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