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Oak ID: Laurel, Willow, Swamp….. or something else….??

Hi folks,

Based on the topics on this forum, it appears that oak identification is a common problem. I'm in the Wilmington, NC area and I have a big ole' oak in my back yard. I've gotten conflicting information as to the species and finding the answer is not only important for my sanity, but possibly for my safety. Living near the coast, an aging Laurel Oak can spell trouble during storms. Mine is in fairly good shape, but there are many in this area that look fine, but tend to be rotten inside and go down in storms. If, on the other hand, this is actually a Willow Oak or some type of hybrid, perhaps it isn't as big of an issue. Again, the bottom line here is that I want to know what it is!

Evidence: I'll attach some pictures and give you some information about the tree. Almost none of the leaves have bristle tips (a typical attribute of Willows) and many are slightly lobed toward the tip. This oak does drop most of its leaves, but it starts dropping in the fall and tends to finish in February (been cleaning up the mess every year for about 16 years now). The leaves tend to just go from green to brown in the fall and the thing is constantly dropping twigs and branches. Now, I've seen other trees that I'm fairly certain are Laurel Oaks in this area and they seem to retain more leaves than mine--- they seem to be more evergreen than mine. I've always assumed I had a Laurel Oak, but with someone local questioning this and saying that it might be a Willow, I'm really not sure now. This person mentioned the amount of leaf drop as evidence that it might be a Willow. I've looked at thousands of pictures and descriptions, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer. The shape of the leaf is not really in line with Willow (which are almost always uniform and end with bristle at the tip), and the shape of the tree and it's more deciduous nature are not really in line with Laurel. I read some article published by the U of Florida that also mentioned the Swamp Laurel Oak as a possible choice.

The diameter of the tree is roughly 40-45" at 4' of the ground. I'll attach a variety of pictures of leaves, acorns and wide shots.

So, what is it? Laurel, Swamp Laurel, Willow, Hybrid, other??


Thanks very much for your help!
by AGJL1
Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:45 pm
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