Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata   Walter
Members of Fagaceae:
Members of Quercus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Fagales » Family Fagaceae
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DistributionEssentially throughout the Coastal Plain, except likely absent from most far eastern counties. Also present in the eastern half of the Piedmont, west to Rockingham, Iredell, and Mecklenburg counties.

This is a wide-ranging species of the southeastern quarter of the country, ranging north to southern NJ and southern IL, and south to northern FL and eastern TX. It is absent from mountainous areas.
AbundanceFairly common in the western and central Coastal Plain, but rare east of Hertford, Pitt, and Pamlico counties. Rare to uncommon in the Piedmont portion of the range. Seldom occurs in large numbers at any site in the state, nor is it a dominant tree species in its habitats; usually occurs as scattered individuals.
HabitatThis species occurs in more flooded soils than any other oak in the state, being found in swamps, wetter parts of bottomlands, and floodplain pools, both in brownwater and in blackwater conditions. In the Piedmont it is most often found in Upland Depression Swamp Forests over high pH soil, but can be found in some swamps and in floodplain pools. Its occurrence in some of these upland depressions, at the top of a ridge or monadnock, is most surprising, as it is difficult to find the species in nearby floodplains!
PhenologyFlowers in March and April, and fruits from September to October of the same year.
IdentificationThis is a rather familiar medium deciduous tree, growing to 70-75 feet tall, occasionally taller. It has medium length to rather long leaves, to 5-6 inches long, but they have a distinctive shape that is hard to describe. The typical leaf has a large lobe on each side near the tip, and one or two small lobes near the base, giving the leaf a top-heavy shape, widest at the lobes near the tip. The leaf base is usually cuneate. Other “white oak” species have leaf lobes more even in shape, mostly being gently rounded, as opposed to more angular or square-shaped in Overcup Oak. Post Oak (Q. stellata) also has angular or squared lobes, but the leaf is more cross-shaped, and this species grows in upland sites, never in flooded or swampy places. Most notable, if you can find them, are the acorns. As the name states, the cup of the acorn wraps almost completely around the acorn, so that only the tip of the acorn is visible.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieTriassic Basin, McLendon's Creek at Cool Springs Road, May 2016. MoorePhoto_natural
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