Bur Oak

All About the Bur Oak:

Scientific Nomenclature: Quercus macrocarpa

Common Names: bur oak, burr oak

Mature Height: 70–80 feet

Mature Spread: 70–80 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate 

Attracts Wildlife: Pollinators; select butterfly and moth species

Messiness: Leaves drop in autumn. Pollen-heavy flowers bloom in drooping clusters in spring. Huge acorns (1–3 inches long and up to 1 ½ inches broad) enclosed in a spiny cap drop in autumn.

Shape: Open/Spreading

Native to Kentucky: Yes

Preferred Soils: Bur oaks prefer well-drained, neutral (6.0–8.0pH) to alkaline (>8.0pH) loam soils. It is tolerant of acidic (<6.0pH) soils as well as heavy clay soils, sandy soils, and rocky slopes.

Screening: Not planted as a screening or privacy tree.

Drought Tolerance: Very drought and pollution resistant.

Coniferous or Deciduous: Deciduous

Pruning: Rarely needs pruning other than to remove deadwood or damaged branches to keep the tree vigorous.

Climate Quick Facts:

Following being planted as a sapling, over 20 years one bur oak will:

  • Sequester ~255 pounds of CO2.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 181 gallons.



The bur oak is also Lexington's official tree. In late 2017, Lexington's Tree Board invited the community to vote for Lexington's official tree from three finalists that thrive in the Bluegrass region: bur oak, Shumard oak and chinkapin oak. The bur oak won by a landslide. Visit https://www.lexingtonky.gov/lexingtons-official-tree to learn more!