Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Quercus stellata


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H. 1992. Quercus stellata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : QUESTE QUESTEM QUESTEP QUESTES SYNONYMS : Quercus boyntonii Beadle Quercus mississippiensis Ashe Quercus similis Ashe Quercus drummondii Liebm. Quercus stellata var. boyntonii (Beadle) Sarg. Quercus stellata var. mississippiensis (Ashe) Little Quercus stellata var. similis (Ashe) Sudw. SCS PLANT CODE : QUST COMMON NAMES : post oak Delta post oak iron oak cross oak dwarf post oak runner oak scrubby post oak Boynton post oak Drummond post oak bottomland post oak bottom-land post oak Mississippi Valley oak yellow oak TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of post oak is Quercus stellata Wangenh. [30,47]. Post oak has been placed within the subgenus Lepidobalanus, or white oak group [59]. The following varieties are recognized [30]: Quercus stellata var. paludosa Sarg., Delta post oak Quercus stellata var. stellata, post oak Identification of post oak is difficult because of its many growth forms. At times, local populations have been given species or varietal status. A rhizomatous dwarf post oak that grows near Lufkin, Texas, is called Boynton post oak (Q. boyntonii). Drummond post oak, which grows in deep sands of Texas, is thought to be a hybrid between post oak and sand post oak (Q. margaretta) [46]. It has also been considered a species (Q. drummondii) by some authors [13,46]. Post oak hybridizes with the following species [30]: x Q. alba (white oak): Q. X fernowii Trel. x Q. bicolor (swamp white oak): Q. X substellata Trel. x Q. durandii (Durand oak): Q. X macnabiana Sudw. x Q. havardii (Havard oak) x Q. lyrata (overcup oak): Q. X sterrettii Trel. x Q. macrocarpa (bur oak): Q. X guadalupensis Sarg. x Q. minima (dwarf live oak): Q. X neo-tharpii A. Camus x Q. mohriana (Mohr oak) x Q. prinoides (dwarf chinkapin oak): Q. X stelloides Palmer x Q. prinus (chestnut oak): Q. X bernardiensis W. Wolf x Q. virginiana (live oak): Q. X harbisonii Sarg. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Post oak is widespread in the eastern and central United States from southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, southern Connecticut, and extreme southeastern New York; south to central Florida; and west to southeastern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and central Texas. In the Midwest, it grows as far north as southeastern Iowa, central Illinois, and southern Indiana. It is an abundant tree in coastal plains and the Piedmont and extends into the lower slopes of the Appalachian Mountains [47]. Delta post oak occurs in bottomlands in eastern Texas and in the Mississippi River valley in western Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas, and Louisiana [47]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES32 Texas savanna FRES39 Prairie STATES : AL AR CT DE FL GA IA IL IN KS KY LA MA MD MS MO NC NJ NY OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VA WV BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100 K083 Cedar glades K084 Cross Timbers K089 Black Belt K100 Oak - hickory forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K115 Sand pine scrub SAF COVER TYPES : 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 43 Bear oak 44 Chestnut oak 45 Pitch pine 46 Eastern redcedar 51 White pine - chestnut oak 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 53 White oak 68 Mesquite 69 Sand pine 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 72 Southern scrub oak 75 Shortleaf pine 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 79 Virginia pine 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak 110 Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Post oak occurs as a dominant tree in savannas and in forests adjacent to grasslands. It forms pure stands or mixed stands with blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) in the prairie transition area of central Oklahoma and Texas, where the eastern deciduous forests grade into the drier western grasslands [43,47]. The following published classifications list post oak as a dominant or codominant species: Forest vegetation of the lower Alabama Piedmont [22] The natural communities of South Carolina [37] Forest vegetation of the Big thicket, southeast Texas [33] Eastern Deciduous Forest [52] Old-growth forests within the Piedmont of South Carolina [25] The natural forests of Maryland: an explanation of the vegetation map of Maryland [56]


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Post oak is not a preferred timber species [44]. It is difficult to grade because of insect damage, and natural pruning and growth are slow [41]. The wood is very durable and classified as moderately to very resistant to decay. It is used for railroad ties, mine timbers, flooring, siding, lathing, planks, construction timbers, and fence posts (hence its name) [47]. Wood of Delta post oak is of better quality than that of the typical variety, but it has a distinct yellow-tan cast which requires separate handling as veneer. Otherwise, Delta post oak wood has broad utility [41]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Post oak provides cover and habitat for birds and mammals. Cavities provide nest and den sites, and leaves are used for nest construction. The acorns are an important food source for wildlife including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and squirrels and other rodents [47]. The tannin in leaves, buds, and acorns is toxic to sheep, cattle, and goats [47]. PALATABILITY : Among 12 southeastern oak species, post oak ranked third in preference to the fox squirrel [39]. Acorns of white oak group species are generally more palatable than black oak group acorns [45]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Post oak acorns contain 5.2 percent crude fat, 37.9 percent total carbohydrates, 3.8 percent total protein, 0.08 percent phosphorus, 0.25 percent calcium, and 0.06 percent magnesium [2]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Post oak is planted for soil stabilization on dry, sloping, stony sites, which are unsuitable for other species [47]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Post oak is used as a shade tree and its bark is used for decorative and protective mulch in landscaping [47]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Post oak is susceptible to most insects and diseases that attack eastern oak species. Chestnut blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica) attacks post oak throughout most of its range [47]. Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), which has defoliated and killed northeastern oak species, showed 17 percent survival in feeding trials using post oak. This exotic moth has been spreading southward from New England and, if not contained, could become a problem for post oak [34]. Hardwood competition in pine plantations and hardwood expansion into grasslands are often controlled with herbicides. Tebuthiuron and triclopyr are extremely effective on post oak in grasslands of the Cross Timbers area of Oklahoma [48].


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Post oak is a long-lived, native, deciduous tree with a crown of horizontal branches. The varieties are distinguished by leaf shape, acorn size, growth form, and site preferences. The typical variety usually grows 50 to 60 feet (15.2-18.3 m) in height and 12 to 24 inches (30-61 cm) in d.b.h. It rarely exceeds 100 feet (30.5 m) in height and 48 inches (122 cm) in d.b.h. [47]. In the drier areas of its range (Texas), post oak is typically only 30 to 40 feet (9-12 m) tall and 15 to 18 inches (38-46 cm) in d.b.h. Post oak is slow growing and lives 300 to 400 years [24,47]. Seedlings have especially thick taproots. Most roots develop above underlying clay horizons [47]. Delta post oak is generally larger than the typical variety, growing to about 100 feet (30 m) in height [13,46]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual: Post oak is monoecious. Seed production begins when the tree is about 25 years old. Good crops occur at 2- to 3-year intervals. Post oak does not produce as many acorns as white oak, blackjack oak, black oak (Quercus velutina), or scarlet oak (Q. coccinea) [47]. Acorns germinate in autumn soon after falling. Germination is hypogeal. The ideal seedbed is moist soil covered with 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more of leaf litter. Height and diameter growth are slow; 10 year d.b.h. growth generally averages less than 2 inches (5 cm). Post oak usually grows more slowly than any associated trees except blackjack oak [47]. Average annual height growth of seedlings in Missouri during a 6 year period was 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) [29]. Seedlings are resistant to drought but not to flooding [47]. Post oak seedlings were more drought tolerant than white oak, black oak, or northern red oak (Q. rubra), primarily because of greater drought tolerance of leaf and root cells [57]. Vegetative: Trees up to 10 inches (25 cm) in d.b.h. sprout prolifically from the root crown after being top-killed. Post oak tends to have fewer sprouts per clump than black, chestnut, white, or scarlet oaks [47]. Post oak sprouts grow faster than seedlings [29]. In the Cross Timbers area of Oklahoma, post oak often occurs in small clusters of two to six trees. These clusters may represent a single individual because the species occasionally reproduces vegetatively from roots, especially under moisture stress [8]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Post oak occurs primarily on dry uplands with southerly or westerly exposures [47] but may occur on terraces of smaller streams in well-drained soil [23]. Post oak is common to about 2,950 feet (900 m) in elevation throughout its range and rare to about 4,920 feet (1,500 m) in the southern Appalachian Mountains [13,47]. The soils are usually shallow, well-drained, coarse-textured, and deficient in nutrients and organic matter. It commonly grows in serpentine soils [56,58]. Post oak is often restricted to sites where a heavy clay subsurface layer is within 1 foot (0.3 m) of the surface or bedrock is within 2 to 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) of the surface [25]. It may grow in shallow sand overlying beds of clay or gravel, but the typical variety of post oak appears to be restricted from deep sands [35]. Post oak grows on drier clayhills that formerly supported longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) [36]. Post oak occurs on sites too dry for white oak and southern red oak (Q. falcata) [38], but on slightly more mesic sites than blackjack oak [11] or eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) [17]. Generally, excessive soil moisture and inundation cause high mortality or severe stress to post oak [6]; however, it dominates some flatwoods in southern Indiana that are moist in the winter [9]. Delta post oak occurs in rich, moist bottomlands, usually on the highest first bottom ridges and terraces. Soils are fine, sandy loam [13,47]. In addition to those species mentioned in Distribution and Occurrence, less common overstory associates of post oak include hickories (Carya spp.), southern red oak, scarlet oak, bluejack oak, live oak, shingle oak (Q. imbricaria), chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii), bluejack oak, Shumard oak (Q. shumardii), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), red maple (Acer rubrum), winged elm (Ulmus alata), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and dogwood (Cornus spp.) [47]. Overstory associates of Delta post oak include green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), white ash (F. americana), white oak, water oak, blackgum, sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), American elm (Ulmus americana), winged elm, American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), black willow (Salix nigra), and hickories [46,47]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Post oak is intolerant of shade and competition. Because of slow growth it is often overtopped by other species, including most oaks. It persists and becomes dominant on poor sites because of its drought resistance [47]. Delta post oak is moderately intolerant of shade [41]. Post oak is common in the understory of pine (Pinus spp.)-hardwood forests. In the absence of fire, post oak may become dominant depending on site conditions and competition from associated species [19]. In an upland longleaf pine forest in the west Gulf Coastal Plain, post oak, along with blackjack oak, bluejack oak, and black hickory (Carya texana), became codominant and eventually replaced longleaf pine [4]. Post oak will expand into adjacent prairies in the absence of fire [47]. The post oak-blackjack oak association may be an edaphic climax on dry sites [14]. Some of the most xeric sites of the South Carolina Piedmont are occupied by old-growth communities of post oak, black oak, and blueridge blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans). Although the community appears to be in steady state, it may evolve into a hickory-dominated community in the absence of fire [25]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Post oak flowers from March to June depending on elevation and latitude. Flowers appear at the same time as leaves. Acorns mature in one growing season and drop soon after ripening from September through November. Acorns exhibit no dormancy and germinate soon after dropping [47].


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Post oak is moderately resistant to fire [5]. It is less tolerant than blackjack oak, about as tolerant as black oak [5,21], and slightly more tolerant than southern red oak [3]. The basal bark on mature trees is medium thick, and stands of post oak are moderately open [5]. Smaller trees are easily killed by fire, but sprout vigorously from the root collar [55]. If fire is frequent in pine-oak-hickory associations, post oak is an important constituent because fire provides an opportunity for invasion by this more fire-resistant oak. If fire is infrequent or absent, post oak also is absent [28]. In xeric sandhill communities of post oak, blackjack oak, and bluejack oak, grass and other fuels are rare and fires are only occasional. When fires do reach these communities, some mature trees may be killed, but they sprout and the community is maintained [54]. In a study investigating the temperature of a surface fire as it moved from the surrounding grasslands to the area beneath a single post oak, the temperature increased sharply from the canopy edge to the midcanopy position because the increase in fuel load was not accompanied by a concomitant increase in fuel moisture percentage. The temperature then decreased from the midcanopy to the base of the tree, despite continued increase in fuel load and a slight decrease in fuel moisture. This decline in temperature was presumably caused by the bole of the tree, which stopped the leading edge of the fire [16]. Under historic fire regimes, a savanna is maintained because after a hot surface fire grass grows back faster than the woody sprouts. In the absence of fire, the woody canopy spreads and the grass dies back. If fire returns, post oaks are likely to survive because the reduction in grass fuel results in a much cooler fire. In a fire in central Oklahoma, all savanna litter burned whereas only 45 percent of the litter in the adjacent forest burned [24]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : In general, small post oaks are top-killed by low-severity fire, and more severe fires top-kill larger trees and may kill rootstocks as well. Growing-season fires tend to be more detrimental to post oak than dormant-season fires. In Texas, a winter head fire top-killed 20 percent of a post oak and southern red oak understory; a late winter fire top-killed just over 40 percent; a spring fire top-killed just under 40 percent; and a late summer fire top-killed 55 percent. Winter fires killed on average less than 2 percent of rootstocks; summer fires killed on average less than 10 percent. The top-kill was substantially greater for oaks between 0.6 and 2.5 inches (1.5-6.4 cm) in diameter than those between 2.6 and 4.5 inches (6.5-11.4 cm) in diameter. Diameter was measured 6 inches (15.2 cm) above the ground line [15]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : Post oak in a savanna is more likely to be killed by surface fires than post oak in a forest because of the grass fuel load in the savanna. In a March surface fire in a central Oklahoma savanna, most post oaks smaller than 1.6 inches (4 cm) in d.b.h. were top-killed and some trees up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) in d.b.h. were top-killed or severely damaged. In the adjacent post oak-blackjack oak forest, however, few woody stems larger than 1 inch (2.5 cm) were top-killed [24]. In a post oak-eastern redcedar community, post oak is likely to be killed by fire because the eastern redcedar is highly flammable and fires tend to be hot. In a severe fire in a post oak-eastern redcedar community in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma, 92 percent of all trees (post oak, blackjack oak, and eastern redcedar) greater than 3 inches (7.6 cm) in d.b.h. were top-killed and only 13.5 percent of the post oaks and blackjack oaks sprouted. In the adjacent post oak-blackjack oak forest, only 66 percent of trees greater than 3 inches (7.6 cm) were top-killed by the fire and 70 percent sprouted [40]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : If top-killed by fire, post oak up to 10 inches (25 cm) in d.b.h. sprout vigorously from the root crown [47]. Because of sprouting, fire tends to increase the number of understory post oak stems. Eight annual winter fires in Tennessee resulted in 2,000 stems per acre (4,940/ha) compared to 1,220 stems per acre (3,010/ha) in the unburned control [49]. If the high fire frequency continues, however, the stem density may decrease as root systems are killed. In a study on the Santee Experimental Forest in South Carolina, 43 years of periodic winter and summer low-severity fires and annual winter and summer low-severity fires reduced the number of hardwood stems (including post oak) between 1 and 5 inches (2.6-12.5) in d.b.h. However, the number of stems less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in d.b.h. increased slightly under all treatments except annual summer fires. Root systems were weakened and eventually killed by annual burning during the growing season [53]. Fire wounds on surviving trees allow entry of fungi which can cause heart rot decay [50]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Many present-day post oak-blackjack oak stands were former savannas. In the Wichita Forest Reserve in Oklahoma, the average age of stands coincides with the advent of fire suppression in the reserve [10]. Forests may not revert back to savannas with prescribed burning because post oak-blackjack oak forests are resistant to effects of fire once the canopy closes and the grass fuel load is reduced [24]. Fire, in conjunction with herbicides, may be effective at eliminating post oak [48]. Prescribed fires are used to maintain grasslands. Repeat summer fires are effective at controlling woody species because they are hotter than winter fires, and belowground carbohydrate reserves are lowest in the summer [18]. Post oak growing within a pine forest can also be controlled with prescribed fire [3,53]. Equations for the estimation of fire-caused mortality have been developed for post oak. In order to predict mortality, a manager needs to know the tree d.b.h, the height of bark blackening, the width of bark blackening 1 foot above the ground, and the season of fire. The equations should only be applied to trees between 3 and 16 inches (7.6-40.6 cm) in d.b.h. [31].


SPECIES: Quercus stellata
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