Running Oak (Quercus elliottii)

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Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

This unusual oak is a low shrub that spreads by underground runners. Rare in North Carolina, where it is only found in the southeastern Coastal Plain, Running Oak is endemic to the southeastern United States. The elongate leaves are somewhat similar to those of Willow Oak (Q. phellos) above, and could possibly be mistaken for a seedling. The leaves are white-hairy beneath, unlike Willow Oak leaves.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Seedling Bluejack Oak (Q. incana), which has densely hairy leaf undersides like Running Oak, could also be confused but Running Oak leaves are white-hairy beneath, while those of Bluejack Oak are grayish-hairy. The leaves of Running Oak are slightly revolute (rolled), while those of Bluejack are not.

More commonly known as Quercus pumila, Professor Bob Wilbur of Duke argued that the name was misapplied and created a new name for the species, Quercus elliottii (Wilbur, RL. 2002. Thomas Walter's oaks from the coastal region of South Carolina. Rhodora 104:134–150.)

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

The leaves are lustrous above.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Densely white-hairy young leaves.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Leaf underside detail, showing the dense white hairs.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Old leaves may lose the white hairs on the undersurface, resembling Willow Oak leaves.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

The acorns, which mature in one year, are nearly black.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Bud detail.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Bark detail.

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

Running Oak (Quercus elliottii/pumila)

Typical habitat, in pine flatwoods (here in a powerline clearing).

Robeson Co., NC 10/4/2009.

More information:
Forestry Images
USDA PLANTS database

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All photographs and text ©2010 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.