"Trees dioecious, to 30 m, single-stemmed; crown narrowly erect to conical, round, or flattened. Bark brown, exfoliating in thin strips, that of small branchlets (5-10 mm diam.) smooth, that of larger branchlets usually not exfoliating in plates. Branches pendulous to ascending; branchlets generally erect, sometimes lax to flaccid, 3-4-sided in cross section, ca. 2/3 or less as wide as length of scalelike leaves. Leaves green but sometimes turning reddish brown in winter, abaxial gland elliptic or elongate, conspicuous, exudate absent, margins entire (at 20× and 40×); whip leaves 3-6 mm, not glaucous adaxially; scalelike leaves 1-3 mm, overlapping by more than 1/4 their length, keeled, apex obtuse to acute, spreading. Seed cones maturing in 1 year, of 1 size, generally with straight peduncles, globose to ovoid, 3-6(-7) mm, blue-black to brownish blue when mature, glaucous, soft and resinous, with 1-2(-3) seeds. Seeds 1.5-4 mm" (Adams 1993).
Canada: Ontario, Québec. USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin; naturalized in Colorado and Oregon (PLANTS database 2009.03.31). As such, it is the most widely distributed conifer in the eastern United States. See also Thompson et al. (1999). Hardy to Zone 4 (cold hardiness limit between -34.3°C and -28.9°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
The largest recorded specimens for both varieties are almost identical in size, about 160 cm dbh and 22 m tall.
A tree with a crossdated age of 940 years, found in West Virginia (Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, Inc. and the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University 2012). Also, a tree with a crossdated age of 795 years, specimen LTD95A, collected near Leatherwood Creek, Missouri by D.W. Stahle, R. Guyette, M.D. Therrell and M.K. Cleaveland as part of the Ancient Cross Timbers Project (NCDC 2006). The data series for this tree ends in 1979, but it was collected in 1991, so I presume it was dead at the time.
Trees over 500 years old have been found in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas area in the course of the Ancient Cross Timbers Project (1999), which has performed ecological, historical/archeological and climatic studies using this species and (primarily) the post oak, Quercus stellata.
Its wood contains an oil that deters moths and is often used to line chests. The wood has also been used for making wooden pencils.
[NCDC 2006] Data accessed at the National Climatic Data Center World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Tree-Ring Data Search Page, 2006.09.08. URL:http://hurricane.ncdc.noaa.gov/pls/paleo/fm_createpages.treering.
Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, Inc. and the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University. 2012. Eastern OLDLIST: A database of maximum tree ages for Eastern North America. http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~adk/oldlisteast/, accessed 2012.03.08.
Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.
Prasad, Anantha M. and Louis R. Iverson. 1999. A Climate Change Atlas for 80 Forest Tree Species of the Eastern United States. http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/delaware/atlas/. Delaware, Ohio: USFS Northeastern Research Station.
Last Modified 2012-11-28