Oak Leaves – Black Oak or White Oak?

Black Oak or White Oak

Black Oak or White Oak

I know this is a pile of leaves. I happen to like piles of leaves, but I thought it a good idea if I had a reason for posting a photo of a pile of leaves. So…for those of you who weren’t in scouts for half your childhood or trained to be a naturalist or park ranger, I will tell you a fail proof method of determining if an oak leaf is a white oak or a black oak. (I know there are other oaks – pin oaks, turkey oaks, canyon oaks, and perhaps another 400 types of oaks, but this fun trick only works for the black and white ones.)

There are mostly black oak leaves in the photo, but I see one white oak leaf in the lower left corner. To tell if an oak leaf is a black oak look at the tip of its leaf. Are the tips sharp like a Halloween witches’ hat? Yes? The traditional Halloween witch is dressed in black. The oak is a black oak. Black=black!

Now consider the white oak leaf. Its tips are rounded. Yes, rounded like a little ghost. And Halloween ghosts are white. Aha! White=white!

So know you will always be able to tell a black oak from a white oak. You, too, can impress small children and large adults alike with your knowledge of tree lore. Enjoy!

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Wonderful! Love the abstract nature of this..and how the leaves fill the frame.

  2. Great story. I’ll actually be able to remember the way to tell the difference.

  3. That’s a perfect way to remember the difference. Thanks! If you have a moment would you please identify the leaves in the photo I took in Wisconsin? On my Giraffe Head Tree blog? A friend thinks perhaps they’re White Mulberry. ??? Also the huge tree, which may indeed be the White Mulberry. It’s hard to tell when all the leaves are on the ground and scattered everywhere – which leaves went with which tree, that sort of thing. Love your photos and posts, and your new blog arrangement is very nice.

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