Bear Oak Quercus ilicifolia Wangerheim    Synonyms: Scrub oak.
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Tracheophyta   >   Class Magnoliopsida   >   Order Fagales   >   Family Fagaceae   >   Genus Quercus   

Status:

This diminutive oak (a shrub or small tree, 5-40 feet in height) occurs in a limited geographic range--the northeastern states, from Maine to North Carolina. Also known as scrub oak, it is very intolerant of shade, and, when over-topped by larger trees, the stems die unless site disturbance, as by fire or clear-cutting, stimulates the sprouting of new stems from its long-lived roots. The stems tend to form dense thickets, which help hold the soil in place.

Description:

Bear Oak is identifiable by its leaves, which are small, with only a few shallow, bristle-tipped lobes and distinctly whitish, hairy undersides. The acorns are brownish and striped.

Where to find:

Bear Oak grows mainly in sandy, rocky, well-drained, nutrient-poor soils, of mountains, uplands, barrens, and slopes. In Maryland, it is most typical of mountainous areas.

Relationships:

The dense stems provide good cover and food (acorns) for small animals during the early stages of succession.

Host plant for various butterfly species including Edwards' Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, and Sleepy Duskywing.

Host plant for various moth species including the Buck Moth (Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants).

There are 51 records in the project database.

View species at Maryland Plant Atlas

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Bear Oak (leaves) in Frederick Co., Maryland (7/19/2012). Photo by Jane Hill. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Allegany Co., Maryland (5/12/2013). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Montgomery Co., Maryland (6/26/2016). Note characteristic white underside of leaf. Photo by Bill Hill. (MBP list)

Bear Oak (acorn and acorn cups) in Frederick Co., Maryland (9/28/2014). Photo by Jane Hill. (MBP list)

Bear Oak, showing characteristic shrubby form on typical rocky, sloping substrate, in Allegany Co., Maryland (6/20/2018). Photo by Kimberly Booth. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Frederick Co., Maryland (6/15/2019). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Allegany Co., Maryland (5/9/2019). Photo by Mark Eanes. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Allegany Co., Maryland (5/12/2013). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Allegany Co., Maryland (7/8/2019). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Garrett Co., Maryland (10/28/2018). Photo by Boyer and McDowell. (MBP list)

Bear Oak in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (12/26/2018). Photo by Matt Grey. (MBP list)


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