=Habitat and Range.=--In strong, well-drained soil; pastures, rocky

woods, and hillsides.


Maine,--southern sections, probably not indigenous north of latitude 44 deg.

20'; New Hampshire,--Connecticut valley near the river, as far north as

Windsor, Vt.; most abundant in the Merrimac valley south of Concord, but

occasional a short distance northward; Vermont,--common in

southern sections, especially in the Connecticut valley; occasional as

far north as Windsor (Windsor county), West Rutland (Rutland county),

Burlington (Chittenden county); Massachusetts,--rather common throughout

the state, but less frequent near the sea; Rhode Island and


South to Delaware, along the mountains to Alabama; west to

Michigan, Indiana, and Tennessee.

=Habit.=--A tree of the first magnitude, rising to a height of 60-80

feet and reaching a diameter of 5-6 feet above the swell of the roots,

with a spread sometimes equaling or even exceeding the height; attaining

often much greater proportions. The massive trunk separates usually a

few feet from the ground into several stout horizontal or ascending

branches, the limbs higher up, horizontal or rising at a broad angle,

forming a stately, open, roundish, or inversely pyramidal head;

branchlets slender; spray coarse and not abundant; foliage bright green,

dense, casting a deep shade; flowers profuse, the long, sterile catkins

upon their darker background of leaves conspicuous upon the hill

slopes at a great distance. A tree that may well dispute precedence with

the white or red oak.

=Bark.=--Bark of trunk in old trees deeply cleft with wide ridges, hard,

rough, dark gray; in young trees very smooth, often shining; season's

shoots green or purplish-brown, white-dotted.

=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds small, ovate, brown, acutish. Leaves

simple, alternate, 5-10 inches long, 1-3 inches wide, bright clear

green above, paler beneath and smooth on both sides; outline

oblong-lanceolate, sharply and coarsely serrate; veins straight,

terminating in the teeth; apex acuminate; base acute or obtuse;

leafstalk short; stipules soon falling.

=Inflorescence.=--June to July. Appearing from the axils of the season's

shoots, after the leaves have grown to their full size; sterile catkins

numerous, clustered or single, erect or spreading, 4-10 inches long,

slender, flowers pale yellowish-green or cream-colored; calyx pubescent,

mostly 6-parted; stamens 15-20; odor offensive when the anthers are

discharging their pollen: fertile flowers near the base of the upper

sterile catkins or in separate axils, 1-3 in a prickly involucre; calyx

6-toothed; ovary ovate, styles as many as the cells of the ovary,


=Fruit.=--Burs round, thick, prickly, 2-4 inches in diameter, opening by

4 valves: nuts 1-5, dark brown, covered with whitish down at apex, flat

on one side when there are several in a cluster, ovate when only one,

sweet and edible.

=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; prefers fertile,

well-drained, gravelly or rocky soil; rather difficult to transplant;

usually obtainable in nurseries. Its vigorous and rapid growth, massive,

broad-spreading head and attractive flowers make it a valuable tree for

landscape gardening, but in public places the prickly burs and edible

fruit are a serious disadvantage. Propagated from the seed.

1. Winter buds.

2. Flowering branch.

3. Sterile flower.

4. Fertile flower.

5. Fruit.

6. Nut.


Inflorescence appearing with the leaves in spring; sterile catkins from

terminal or lateral buds on shoots of the preceding year, bracted,

usually several in a cluster, unbranched, long, cylindrical, pendulous;

bracts of sterile flowers minute, soon falling; calyx parted or lobed;

stamens 3-12, undivided: fertile flowers terminal or axillary upon the

new shoots, single or few-clustered, bracted, erect; involucre scaly,

becoming the cupule or cup around the lower part of the acorn; ovary

3-celled; stigma 3-lobed.


Leaves with obtuse or rounded lobes or teeth; cup-scales thickened or

knobbed at base; stigmas sessile or nearly so; fruit maturing the first