7 Common Types of Oak Trees in Virginia

The state of Virginia is home to dozens of tree types, and thanks to the mild temperatures experienced throughout most of the year, trees and plants just thrive there. In fact, if you’re a nature-lover or just love beautiful scenery, Virginia isn’t just for lovers — it’s for you, too.

Trees in Virginia include pines, walnuts, hickories, birches, beeches, elms, and of course, oaks. Oak trees are tall and majestic-looking, offering viewers a unique experience thanks to the way they look and their gorgeous nuts, also called acorns. In fact, if you have a lot of squirrels where you live, they’ll know exactly where the oak trees are located because they love these acorns more than anyone or anything else does!

Oak trees are also known for their wood, which is extra-hard and is used frequently to make everything from furniture to flooring and even musical instruments and whiskey barrels. A very versatile tree indeed, oak trees also tend to live for several centuries, so you can count on enjoying them for many years to come. If you want to find out more about the seven types of oak trees found in Virginia, below are descriptions of each of them.

1. Blackjack Oak (quercus marilandica)

Quercus Marilandica
Bruce K. Kirchoff Quercus Marilandica

Considered one of the smallest types of oak trees, the blackjack oak only grows to around 49 feet in height, but they are also very easy trees to grow because they can grow in a variety of soils, including soils that are not that great. The tough wood of the tree has been used in wood-burning stoves and in BBQ grills, but not in fireplaces because it tends to pop a lot, which could be dangerous because it might start a fire.

2. Chestnut Oak (quercus michauxii)

Quercus Michauxii
Bruce K. Kirchoff Quercus Michauxii

The chestnut oak tree is often seen in public areas that include parks and city streets because it is a beautiful tree that can easily be used as an ornamental tree. It is also called the swamp chestnut oak and grows to around 65 feet high. Its leaves are large, growing up to 11 inches long and seven inches wide, and they turn a beautiful red color in the fall. The main uses for its wood tend to be picnic baskets and other small items, because it isn’t sturdy enough to use in the making of furniture.

3. Live Oak (quercus virginiana)

Quercus Virginiana
Forest and Kim Starr Quercus Virginiana

Because it is such a common sight in the Deep South, the live oak is sometimes called the southern live oak, and it is called “live” because it doesn’t go dormant in the winter time. The leaves are stiff and leathery, with a shiny green top and a pale gray bottom. The leaves get up to six inches long and two inches in width, and the wood is very strong and, therefore, can be used to make furniture, flooring, and numerous other products. Indeed, the wood and the tree are both beautiful, not to mention versatile.

4. Post Oak (quercus stellata)

Quercus Stellata
Sandra Richard Quercus Stellata

Part of the white oak group, the post oak tree does great even in poor soils, which means it is a very easy tree to grow. Since it usually only gets to around 50 feet high, it is considered a small oak tree, even though a few of these trees have gotten up to around 100 feet in height. The leaves look a lot like Maltese crosses and, therefore, are unusual in shape and design, and the acorns are some of the smallest nuts of any of the oak trees, although they are still very valuable to local wildlife.

5. Water Oak (quercus nigra)

Quercus Nigra
Bruce K. Kirchoff Quercus Nigra

Water oak trees are part of the red oak group and are native to the Eastern and South-Central United States. They are relatively large oaks that can be as tall as 100 feet and have trunks that get up to three feet in diameter. The acorns grow either singly or in pairs and mature in the second year during the fall season. They are also very small, growing only to around half-an-inch in size. The leaves of the water oak tree are a beautiful shade of bluish-green both on the top and the bottom.

6. White Oak (quercus alba)

Quercus Alba
Plant Image Library Quercus Alba

With bark that is actually a light gray color and not white, the white oak tree can get up to roughly 100 feet high and 100 feet wide, making it a majestic-looking tree indeed. Its lifespan can be around 300 years, which is a little better than average for an oak tree, even though a New Jersey tree was found to be around 600 years old in the year 2016. The wood of the white oak is used to make musical instruments and even whiskey barrels, and the attractiveness of the tree means it is a perfect tree to use as an ornamental or decorative one.

7. Willow Oak (quercus phellos)

Quercus Phellos
Matt Tillett Quercus Phellos

Willow oak trees are part of the red oak group and grow 65 to 100 feet high. Their trunks can be as big as five feet in diameter, so they are quite a massive oak tree. The leaves of the willow oak grow up to four inches long and are usually around one inch wide, and they are a beautiful shade of green on top and a paler shade of green underneath. The tree grows quickly and the wood is hard, which is why it is often used in landscaping and in various public areas. In fact, they tend to confuse planners because they last much longer than expected, causing planners to forget to replace them until the trees cause the sidewalks to crack.