University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FOR 239

Quercus hemisphaerica, Darlington Oak1

Melissa H. Friedman, Michael G. Andreu, Heather V. Quintana, and Mary McKenzie2

Family

Fagaceae, beech and oak family.

Genus

Quercus comes from the Latin name for "oak" and is formed from two Celtic words: quer meaning "beautiful" and cuez meaning "tree."

Species

The species name hemisphaerica stems from the Greek words hemi meaning "half" and sphaer meaning "a ball" or "globular."

Common Names

Darlington oak, laurel oak

The common name "laurel oak" can be confusing because Quercus laurifolia also goes by the same name. In the past, these two trees were considered to be the same species. However, Quercus laurifolia is also known as diamond-leaf oak, which refers to the shape of its leaves. This feature along with their differing preferred habitats helps to distinguish these two oaks from one another. Quercus laurifolia is generally found on wet sites and Quercus hemisphaerica on more upland sites.

Description

This tardily deciduous and relatively short-lived native tree (it reaches maturity at approximately 50 years and lives for 70–90 years) is found along sandy ridges and mixed forests from Virginia south to Florida and west to Texas. It grows best in partial to full sun and can reach heights of up to 100 feet. The thin but leathery-textured leaves are simple and alternate, and 1 to 5 inches long. The leaves are narrowly elliptic or lanceolate with smooth margins or edges and generally exhibit a pointed tip (that often falls off late in the season). The top side of the leaf is dark green and the underside is bright green. The bark is gray and mostly smooth when immature, becoming more rigid and furrowed (more deeply grooved) with maturity. Acorns are small (just one centimeter long) with a grayish cup that covers about 1/3 of the dark brown nut, and the acorns mature in two years.

Figure 1. 

Leaves of Quercus hemisphaerica showing the characteristic shape.


Credit:

Homer Edward Price, CC BY 2.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Allergen

All members of this genus produce large amounts of pollen, making both deciduous and evergreen oaks highly to extremely allergenic.

Applications

Commercial/Practical

While Darlington oak has limited commercial value, it is commonly used as firewood and pulpwood, and for large drag mats or other heavy-use timbers.

Horticultural

This fast-growing tree can reach heights of up to 100 feet, making it a great year-round shade tree that has a denser canopy in the spring and summer months. However, care should be taken when planting this tree near a house becausev the life span of Darlington oak is only 50 years, becoming susceptible to disease and rot with maturity. Like all other oaks, the leaves and acorns of this tree have a high tannin content that can stain concrete. If this is undesirable, homeowners and others should consider this attribute when deciding where to plant this tree.

Figure 2. 

Mature Quercus hemisphaerica showing the dense, rounded canopy.


Credit:

Phillip Merritt, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Wildlife

The Darlington oak is a great food source for many species of wildlife, especially because it regularly produces abundant amounts of acorns.

References

Austin, D. F. 2004. Florida ethnobotany. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Borror, D. J. 1988. Dictionary of root words and combining forms (1st ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Gledhill, D. 1989. The names of plants (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Godfrey, R. K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of Northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.

Kurz, H. and R. K. Godfrey. 1993. Trees of Northern Florida. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Nelson, G. 1994. The trees of Florida: A reference and field guide. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press.

Ogren, T. L. 2000. Allergy-free gardening: The revolutionary guide to healthy landscaping. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Stein, J., D. Binion, and R. Acciavatti. 2003. Field guide to native oak species of Eastern North America. Morgantown, WV: USDA Forest Service.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FOR 239, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date May 2010. Revised January 2011. Reviewed April 2013. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Melissa H. Friedman, former biological scientist, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, IFAS, University of Florida, Plant City Center; Michael G. Andreu, associate professor of forest systems, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Heather V. Quintana, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Mary McKenzie, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.