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Turkey oak

Ten Facts about Turkey Oak

The turkey oak is a deciduous tree commonly found in sand dunes, sand hills, and ridges. Learn more about these trees, including how they got the name “turkey oak” and why they’re useful to people who want to attract wildlife to their landscape.

  1. The scientific name for turkey oak is Quercus laevis. Quercus is the Latin name for “oak,” and laevis comes from the Latin word meaning “smooth, slippery, or polished,” which refers to the tree’s nearly hairless leaves.
  2. The name turkey oak, or turkey-foot oak, comes from the shape of its leaves, which resemble a turkey’s foot.
  3. Turkey oak is also known as scrub oak because of the habitat where the species is commonly located.
  4. These trees can be found as far north as Virginia, as far south as central Florida, and as far west as southeastern Louisiana.
  5. If homeowners want to provide food for wildlife, turkey oaks are a good choice. Turkey oak acorns are an important food source for many animals, such as the black bear, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey.
  6. Turkey oak has a high resistance to wind and is also drought tolerant.
  7. These trees typically grow to be 40 feet tall but can reach heights of 70 feet.
  8. Turkey oak produces large amounts of pollen, causing many people to be allergic to them.
  9. The tree’s wood has been used for lumber and general construction, but is commonly used for fuel wood, barbecuing, and farm construction.
  10. Turkey oak flowers bloom in November.

Adapted and excerpted from:

M. G. Andreu, M. H. Friedman, M. McKenzie, and H. V. Quintana, “Quercus laevis, Turkey Oak (FOR250),” UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation (rev. 04/2013).

D. Culbert, “Turkeys Are Not Always Birds,” UF/IFAS Extension Okeechobee County(11/2004).

Turkey Oak,” 4-H Forest Resources (Accessed 11/2013).

Photo credit: Take One 4 U Too LLC/Thinkstock