In 1941, Maryland named the white oak as its official state tree. Common throughout Maryland, white oak trees are large, long-living, and slow-growing, with some of them even reaching 60 to 150 feet in height. White oaks are a beautiful display of glossy, bright green leaves that have rounded lobes - five to seven per leaf. The tree is named after its white-toned bark and grey twigs.
Some white oak trees are known to have lived for more than 600 years. Native to eastern North America, white oaks are known to produce up to 10,000 acorns annually. The acorns, which have a naturally sweet flavor to them, are a dietary staple for over 80 types of birds and mammals throughout Maryland. Hundreds of years ago, Native Americans would use the acorns as a source for food by grinding it into flour. White oaks also are known to produce beautiful, durable hardwood lumber.
The most famous white oak in the state of Maryland was the Wye Oak tree in Wye Mills, Maryland. Although the tree fell during a major thunderstorm in June 2002, the site where the famous tree stood for more than 400 years in Talbot County is still preserved.
The Wye Oak was approximately 460 years old at the time of its destruction. It measured 31 feet 10 inches in trunk circumference, and 96 feet tall. The tree gained public attention in 1909 when Maryland State forest ranger Fred Besley made the first official measurements of the tree. Ten years later, the Wye Oak was featured in American Forestry magazine as the first tree in the association “Tree Hall of Fame”.
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