Bur Oak

Ojibway: Mitigomizh
Latin: Ouercus macrocarpa Michx.


Common Names
  • Burr Oak
  • Mossycup Oak

Bur Oak is a majestic Oak. Its fiddle-shaped leathery leaves. huge fringed acorns, thick and sometimes corky twigs, and deeply ridged bark add to its bold texture.


Monoecious; male flowers are yellow-green, borne in long, dropping slender catkins, 5-10cm (2-4 in.) long; female flowers are green tinged in red and appear as single, short spikes, both appear shortly after the leaves.


Alternate, simple, 15-30 cm (6-12 in.) long, roughly obovate in shape with many lobes. The two middle sinuses nearly reach the midrib dividing leaf nearly in half. The lobes near the tip resemble a crown, green above and paler, fuzzy below.


Acorns are quite large 2 cm long (1 1/2 in.) and 1/2 enclosed in a warty cap that has a long-fringed margin, Maturing in one growing season in late summer and fall.


Often reaches over 30 m (100 ft.) tall with a long clear bole. In the open it becomes a very wide, spreading tree.


Dry uplands on sandy and loamy soils.


Bur oak is widely distributed throughout the Eastern United States and the Great Plains. It ranges from southern New Brunswick, central Maine, Vermont and southern Quebec; west through Ontario to southern Manitoba and extreme southeastern Saskatchewan; south to North Dakota, extreme southeastern Montana, northeastern Wyoming, South Dakota, central Nebraska, western Oklahoma, and southeastern Texas; then northeast to Arkansas, central Tennessee, west Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. It also grows in Louisiana and Alabama.


Oaks have a variety of uses. The bark of oak can be brewed into a tea for diarrhea, and the scraped and dried inner bark can be made into a tea to relieve heart symptoms. Bur oak was used to make red and black dye recipes. Also, the nut meat may be ground for use in grits or meal, or pounded into a paste. It has also been known to help heal open wounds.