The Post Oak
The Post Oak Tree (Quercus stellata) is a member of the White Oak family. It is not a large tree. The Post Oak will normally grow to between 20 and 90 feet tall with a trunk one to two feet in diameter. In foliage, the tree can be about 80 feet wide. Post Oaks can be found all through Texas except the High Plains and the Trans-Pecos. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the species is so common in South Texas, one of the names for the area is “the Post Oak Savannah”. The Post Oak is native to the Eastern United States, from Connecticut to Southern Iowa to Southeast Texas.
The Post Oak leaf has a “Maltese Cross” form, with three perpendicular terminal lobes. It is leathery and densely short haired on the bottom side. The leaf is usually four to six inches long. The acorns are about one half to three quarters of an inch in length and are mature in their first summer. They are reddish brown in color. The tree is deciduous, with diffuse branching, and it blooms in the spring. The male flowers are greenish, two to five inches long, while the female flowers are inconspicuous.
The name refers to the use of the wood of this tree for fence posts. Its wood, like that of the other white oaks, is hard, tough and rot-resistant. In parts of Texas it is used as a barbeque fuel. The Post Oak is very hardy with a high heat tolerance, adaptable to low rainfall and different soils.
Similar species include Quercus margarettiae, or the Sand Post Oak, which grows in very sandy soil and has smaller downy leaves; the Quercus similis, or the Bottomland Post Oak, which is found on the wet lowlands of Southeast Texas; and the Quercus marilandica, or the Blackjack Oak which grows in habitats in Texas similar to the Post Oak.