Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Carey, Jennifer H. 1992. Quercus marilandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Quercus neoashei Bush
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
black jack oak
The currently accepted scientific name of blackjack oak is Quercus
marilandica Muenchh. . Blackjack oak has been placed within the
subgenus Erythrobalanus, or red (black) oak group . There are no
recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms.
Blackjack oak hybridizes with the following species :
x Q. falcata (southern red oak)
x Q. geogiana (Georgia oak): Q. X smallii Trel.
x Q. ilicifolia (bear oak): Q. X brittonii W. T. Davis
x Q. imbricaria (shingle oak): Q. X tridentata (A. DC.) Engelm.
x Q. incana (bluejack oak): Q. X cravenensis Little
x Q. nigra (water oak): Q. X sterilis Trel.
x Q. phellos (willow oak): Q. X rudkinii Britton
x Q. rubra (northern red oak)
x Q. shumardii (Shumard oak): Q. X hastingsii Sarg.
x Q. velutina (black oak): Q. X bushii Sarg.
x Q. laurifolia (laurel oak): Q. X diversiloba Tharp ex A. Camus
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Blackjack oak occurs in the central and eastern United States from Long
Island, New York, New Jersey, and southeastern Pennsylvania; south to
northwestern Florida; west to central Texas, western Oklahoma and
eastern Kansas; and north to southern Iowa, central Illinois, southern
Indiana, and southern Ohio [27,28].
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES32 Texas savanna
AL AR DE FL GA IL IN IA KS KY
LA MD MS MO NJ NY NC OH OK PA
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
K086 Juniper - oak savanna
K087 Mesquite - oak savanna
K089 Black Belt
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
43 Bear oak
45 Pitch pine
46 Eastern redcedar
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
66 Ashe juniper - redberry (Pinchot) juniper
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
81 Loblolly pine
83 Longleaf pine - slash pine
84 Slash pine
110 Black oak
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Blackjack oak occurs as a dominant tree in savannas and in forests
adjacent to grasslands. It forms mixed stands with post oak (Quercus
stellata) in the prairie transition area of central Oklahoma and Texas,
where the eastern deciduous forests grade into the drier western
Blackjack oak shares dominance with bluejack oak and sand post oak (Q.
stellata var. margaretta) on the slightly more mesic midslopes of
sandhills, downslope from the xeric ridges that support turkey oak (Q.
The Pine Plains of New Jersey are characterized by a community of
dwarfed blackjack oak, bear oak, and pitch pine (Pinus rigida) .
The following published classifications list blackjack oak as a dominant
or codominant species:
Eastern deciduous forest 
The natural communities of South Carolina 
Forest vegetation of the lower Alabama Piedmont 
Forest vegetation of the Big thicket, southeast Texas 
The natural forests of Maryland: an explanation of the vegetation map
of Maryland 
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE :
Blackjack oak is not a preferred timber species . The wood is hard,
heavy, and strong with a wide, light sapwood. It is used mainly for
fence posts, railroad ties, and fuel .
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Blackjack oak provides cover and habitat, and acorns are an important
food source for mammals and birds .
Among 12 southeastern oak species, blackjack oak acorns ranked fourth in
preference to the fox squirrel .
Blackjack oak browse is unpalatable .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
Blackjack oak acorns are generally high in fat and low in protein.
Percent nutrient values compiled by Reid and Goodrum  from the
literature are given below:
location protein fat crude fiber calcium phosphorus
Texas 8.07 26.41 11.55
Louisiana 5.1 5.6 22.8
Mississippi 6.29 10.66 20.94 0.37 0.09
Missouri 5.75 17.73 21.79 0.36 0.09
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Blackjack oak is probably susceptible to most insects and diseases that
attack eastern oak species. Twolined chestnut borer (Agrilus
bilineatus) and the canker fungus, Hypoxylon atropunctatum, have been
associated with dead blackjack oaks .
Hardwood competition in pine plantations and hardwood expansion into
grasslands are often controlled with herbicides. Tebuthiuron and
triclopyr are effective in killing blackjack oak in grasslands of the
Cross Timbers area of Oklahoma . Velpar L, Garlon 3A, and Krenite
were tested on blackjack oak that ranged between 4 and 9 inches
(10.1-22.9 cm) in d.b.h. Velpar L was effective at killing blackjack
oak at all injection spacings (3, 5, and 7 inches [7.6, 12.7, and 17.8
cm]) in both May and December. Garlon 3A was effective only in May at
all spacings, and Krenite was effective only at the 3-inch (7.6 cm)
spacing in May .
Blackjack oak expands into prairies where heavy cattle grazing has
reduced the grass fuel load. Fires, which usually prevent blackjack oak
expansion, are cooler because of the reduced fuel load and not as
effective at killing woody species .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Blackjack oak is a small to medium-sized, slow-growing, native,
deciduous tree. It is often shrubby with a low, rounded crown. The
contorted, down-sweeping branches remain on the tree several years after
they die . Leaves are tenacious after having turned brown, often
clinging to the tree throughout the winter . The acorns are about
0.4 inches (1 cm) long . On poor xeric sites or in drier climates,
blackjack oak is rarely taller than 30 feet (9 m) [49,50]. On better
sites, it grows 45 to 50 feet (14-15 m) in height [15,49]. Blackjack
oak has lived to be as old as 230 years in Oklahoma .
Dwarfed forms of blackjack oak exist on Buzzard's Roost, Missouri, and
in the Pine Plains of New Jersey. In Missouri, the trees are extremely
stunted (4.5 feet [1.4 m] tall), leaves and acorns are miniature, and
there is rosetting of the leaves . In the New Jersey Pine Plains,
the dwarfed blackjack oaks are multistemmed with large, irregularly
shaped stools that are considerably older than the current stems. The
height is usually less than 11 feet (3.4 m) . Blackjack oak in the
Pine Plains exhibit rosetting of leaves and buds in stems roughly 10
years old or older .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Sexual: Blackjack oak is monoecious . It bears seeds at a younger
age than many associated arborescent oaks. In a study in West Virginia,
acorn crops of blackjack oaks that averaged 0.87 inch (2.2 cm) d.b.h.
failed 2 out of 4 years .
Dissemination is by gravity and animals. Germination is hypogeal.
Blackjack oak grows more slowly than many associated trees, including
post oak . Average annual height growth of seedlings in Missouri
during a 6-year period was 1.7 inches (4.3 cm) .
Excessive soil moisture and inundation cause severe stress and often
high mortality of blackjack oak seedlings .
Vegetative: If top-killed or cut, blackjack oak sprouts vigorously from
the root crown . Sprouts grow faster than seedlings. Average
annual height growth of sprouts in Missouri during a 6-year period was
4.4 inches (11.2 cm) . Root crown sprouts as young as 3 to 4 years
old can produce mature acorns .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
A semixeric species, blackjack oak is found on xeric sand deposits and
on extremely dry upper slopes and ridges . It generally occurs on
southerly or westerly aspects . Blackjack oak is found to about
2,500 feet (760 m) in the Appalachian Mountains [16,57].
Blackjack oak typically occurs on dry, nutrient-poor soils . Soils
are sandy, gravelly, or clayey, and may contain a fragipan subhorizon
[7,49]. Blackjack oak usually occurs in sand only if it is heavily
impregnated with clay or shallowly overlies clay . In the Piedmont,
blackjack oak occurs on serpentine soils which are typically eroded,
shallow, and stony [7,22]. The stunted condition of blackjack oaks in a
plant community on Buzzard's Roost in Missouri [see General Botanical
Characteristics] is thought to be caused by the poor soil conditions
which include low pH, very low calcium and magnesium, and high aluminum
Blackjack oak occurs on sites too dry for southern red oak, northern red
oak, or white oak (Quercus alba) [37,44]. It often survives on more
xeric sites than post oak . In Oklahoma, blackjack oak seedlings
occupied the xeric end of the moisture gradient, whereas on more mesic
sites, blackjack oak, post oak, and eastern redcedar (Juniperus
virginiana) seedlings codominated the seedling layer . However,
during a severe drought in Oklahoma, there was higher mortality of
mature blackjack oak than post oak . The dominance of blackjack oak
on less favorable sites may be due to its tolerance of soil infertility
rather than to its drought tolerance [23,46].
Overstory associates not mentioned in Distribution and Occurrence
include pignut hickory (Carya glabra), black hickory (C. texana),
mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), shingle
oak, winged elm (Ulmus alata), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), and sourwood
(Oxydendrum arboreum). Understory associates include blueberry
(Vaccinium spp.), huckleberry (Gaylussacia spp.), mountain-laurel
(Kalmia latifolia), sumac (Rhus spp.), and hawthorn (Crataegus spp.).
Herbaceous plant associates include bluestems (Andropogon spp.), little
bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and sedges (Carex spp.) [7,16,58].
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Facultative Seral Species
Blackjack oak is shade intolerant . Because of slow growth, it is
probably overtopped by other species, including most oaks. It probably
persists and becomes dominant on sites too poor for faster growing
Blackjack oak is common in the understory of pine (Pinus spp.)-hardwood
forests. In the absence of fire, blackjack oak may become dominant
depending on site conditions and competition from associated species
. In upland longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas and longleaf
pine sandhills in the west Gulf Coastal Plain, blackjack oak, along with
post oak, bluejack oak, and black hickory, become dominant and
eventually replace longleaf pine .
Blackjack oak, along with post oak, will expand into adjacent prairies
in the absence of fire . The post oak-blackjack oak association may
be an edaphic climax on dry sites . Because of its longevity,
blackjack oak may be found as a dominant in climax oak-hickory forests
In a study in central Illinois, dry sandy sites were dominated by
blackjack oak and black oak. The two species also dominated the
seedling and sapling layers. However, an influx of shade tolerant,
mesophytic species such as American elm (Ulmus americana) and hackberry
(Celtis occidentalis) in the seedling strata suggest that at least a
partial takeover is likely in the continued absence of fire. The xeric
nature of the site will probably prevent complete takeover .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Blackjack oak flowers from March to May depending on latitude and
elevation. Acorns ripen from September to November of the second
growing season after flowering, drop in the fall, and germinate in the
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Blackjack oak is nearly as fire tolerant as turkey oak  and more
fire tolerant than post oak and black oak . Smaller blackjack oaks
are easily top-killed by fire, but sprout vigorously from the root crown
Recurring fires at 6- to 8-year intervals in the Pine Plains of New
Jersey have produced and maintained a dwarfed community of pitch pine,
blackjack oak, and bear oak [19,33]. Most arborescent oak species are
restricted from the Pine Plains because they do not bear viable seed at
a young enough age to reproduce effectively at this high fire frequency.
Blackjack oak tolerates these frequent fires by sprouting vigorously
after being top-killed and by producing viable seed on the sprouts in 3
to 4 years [29,30].
In xeric sandhill communities of blackjack oak, post oak, and bluejack
oak, grass and other fuels are rare and fires only occasional. When
fires do reach these communities, these oaks may be top-killed, but they
sprout from the root crown and the community is maintained .
Under a normal fire regime (fire occurring every few years), a savanna
is maintained because grass grows back faster than the woody sprouts
after a hot fire. In the absence of fire, blackjack oak spreads and
the grass dies back .
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
In general, low-severity fires top-kill small blackjack oaks, and more
severe fires top-kill larger trees and may kill rootstocks as well. In
the New Jersey Pine Plains, where flame heights are high enough to
ignite and sustain a crown fire, nearly all stems smaller than 9.8 to 13
feet (3-4 m) tall are top-killed .
Acorns on the ground surface are usually killed by surface fires .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
Blackjack oak associated with eastern redcedar is more likely to be
top-killed by fire because eastern redcedar is highly flammable and
fires tend to be hot. A severe fire in a post oak-eastern redcedar
community in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma top-killed 92 percent of
all trees (post oak, blackjack oak, and eastern redcedar) greater than 3
inches (7.6 cm) in d.b.h.; only 13.5 percent of the top-killed blackjack
oaks and post 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 of these sprouted .
There is disagreement in the literature as to whether blackjack oak is
more susceptible to fire in a savanna or in a forest. A March fire in a
central Oklahoma oak savanna top-killed most oaks smaller than 1.6
inches (4 cm) in d.b.h. and top-killed or severely damaged some trees up
to 3.5 inches (9 cm) in d.b.h. In the adjacent post oak-blackjack oak
forest, however, few woody stems larger than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in d.b.h.
were top-killed. In the savanna, all litter was consumed, whereas only
45 percent of the litter in the adjacent forest burned. The authors
suggest that lack of grass under a closed-canopy forest results in a
much cooler fire .
However, an investigation of the effects of a prescribed fire in March
in a savanna and adjacent blackjack oak-black hickory forest in central
Illinois showed the opposite effect: savanna blackjack oaks were less
affected by fire than blackjack oaks in the adjacent closed-canopy
forest. Patterns of fuel consumption around isolated mature blackjack
oaks in the savanna showed that fire never reached the base of the
trees. A few trees had slightly scorched lower branches, but all trees
survived the fire. In the closed-canopy forest, mortality of trees
[stems larger than 3.5 inches (9 cm) in d.b.h.] was high. Three years
after the fire, the density of blackjack oak had decreased from a
prefire density of 179 trees per acre (443 trees/ha) to 74 trees per
acre (183 trees/ha). In essence, the fire converted the closed-canopy
forest to an open-canopy forest. Seventy-five percent of top-killed
trees had basal sprouts 1 year after the fire .
The difference in fire effects on blackjack oak in the Illinois savanna
and forest was attributed to the difference in fuel load. Estimated
average fuel load was 2.5 ounces per square foot (840 g/m sq) in the
savanna and 8.0 ounces per square foot (2,671 g/m sq) in the forest. In
the savanna, fuel load was further reduced under mature blackjack oaks
because grass growth was less in the shade created by the down-sweeping
branches, and the wind removed excess leaf litter. In the closed-canopy
forest, understory fuels built up over time .
The results of these two studies indicate that the effect of fire on
blackjack oak is dependent on surface fuel load.
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
If top-killed by fire, blackjack oak sprouts vigorously from the root
Because of sprouting, fire tends to increase the number of understory
blackjack oak stems. Eight annual fires in Tennessee resulted in 470
stems per acre (1160 stems/ha) compared to 20 stems per acre (49
stems/ha) in the control. Two periodic fires separated by 5 years
resulted in 70 stems per acre (173 stems/ha) .
Frequent fire in the Pine Plains of New Jersey has resulted in
multistemmed blackjack oaks. Two months after a May wildfire, there
were to 3,949 genetically defined blackjack oak and bear oak individuals
per acre (9,750 genets/ha) and 50,422 sprouts per acre (124,500
sprouts/ha). Oaks averaged 13 sprouts per root crown .
In a study in Oklahoma, blackjack oak seedlings were more prevalent in
recently burned areas, suggesting blackjack oak seedlings may increase
after fire. The authors did not speculate on whether the acorns were
buried on-site before the fire or were disseminated postfire by off-site
The Research Project Summary
Early postfire response of southern
Table Mountain-pitch pine stands to prescribed fires in North Carolina and
provides information on prescribed
fire use and postfire response
of plant community species, including blackjack
oak, that was not available
when this species review was originally written.
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 .
Forests may or may not revert back to savannas with prescribed burning
Prescribed fire, in conjunction with herbicides, may be
effective at eliminating blackjack oak . Prescribed fire in 4-year
rotations may be effective at preventing blackjack oak expansion into
SPECIES: Quercus marilandica
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