Quercus acutissima - Carruthers
Sawtooth Oak
Other Common Names: sawtooth oak
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Quercus acutissima Carruthers (TSN 195162)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.144243
Element Code: PDFAG05340
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Beech Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Fagales Fagaceae Quercus
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Quercus acutissima
Taxonomic Comments: Exotic in N. America n. of Mexico.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 09Jul1992
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Virginia (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DCexotic, DEexotic, LAexotic, PAexotic, VAexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: This tree is spreading slowly from plantings, usually into somewhat disturbed areas, in a number of localized places in the eastern U.S. Over a long time period it could alter the composition of native forest and woodland vegetation but it is not particularly aggressive or hard to control and the rate of spread appears to be gradual.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low/Insignificant
I-Rank Review Date: 05Jan2007
Evaluator: K. Maybury
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Eastern Asia.

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Confirmed to have establised outside of cultivation in 7 states per Whittemore (2004), 9 states per Kartesz (unpublished data, 2006).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: For example, in grasslands and margins of deciduous woodlands (Whittemore 2004).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No reports of impacts to abiotic ecosystem processes or parameters.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance
Comments: Establishes in otherwise open, disturbed areas but only in close proximity to adult trees (Whittemore 2004) so structural impacts will be modest.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Displaces native vegetation (USFWS BayScapes 2004), but not to a "High" degree as defined here. Only "High" and "Insignificant" can be ruled out, however: "It is difficult to predict the long-term performance of sawtooth oak in the vegetation of eastern North America, since the decades that have passed since large-scale planting of the species in North America began are less than a full generation for the species" (Whittemore 2004). Although open or semi-open conditions may be required for establishment, a Maryland population of 5 trees planted in the early 1970s has about 300 saplings that are persisting over a large area, even where the forest canopy has since become quite dense (S. Tangren, pers. comm. 2007).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No disproportionate impacts noted. Whittemore (2004) indicates that concerns about hybridization are unwarranted. Similarly, concerns about sawtooth oak being less nutritious than native oaks for North American wildlife have not been substantiated. Shimada and Saitoh (2006) indicate that metabolizable energy---an indicator of food quality that takes into account the digestion-inhibiting effect of natural tannins---is similar for sawtooth and native white oak.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Has established in "reasonably natural habitats" although often in disturbed areas (Whittemore 2004).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Currently (2007) there are sporadic occurrences in the mid-Atlantic and southern U.S. and Missouri (Kartesz, unpublished data 2006).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High significance
Comments: At least some negative impacts assumed in most of the generalized range.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: About 12 ecoregions.

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Grasslands and open woodlands in eastern North America (Whittemore 2004).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: This species has been popular for planting in the U.S. for only about 50 years. It has fairly recently become apparent that the tree is escaping at numerous locales across the eastern U.S. but most escapes appear to be localized; how much expansion we will see in the overall generalized range is uncertain.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Thought to be hardy only to USDA zone 6 and only escaped in the east as far north as Pennsylvania so far. Gilman and Watson (1994) map the potential planting range to include the Pacific states, some of the Intermountain West, all of the southern states from parts of Arizona to Florida and north to Kansas in the central states and Massachusetts in the east. The USDA (1988) shows the "area of adaptation" of the popular cultivar "Gobbler" as the eastern U.S. only, extending to Texas and notes that it is adapted to the 30 inch rainfall belt (so not farther west than central Texas). Whether the tree is likely to naturalize in all or most or some of these potententially suitable planting areas is unknown.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Sold and commonly planted to attract deer, turkey and other game. Also sold as a fast-growing yard/street tree. If not spread by humans, dispersal would presumably be quite slow as the acorns are not widely dispersed; Whittemore (2004) studied escapes in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Missouri and found that almost all seedlings were within 20 m of a mature tree and none were more than 100m from an adult.

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Low significance
Comments: Definitely spreading locally around some sites where it has been planted but the rate of spread is described as slow (Whittemore 2004).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Whittemore (2004) notes that this species is "confined" to open, often disturbed areas but can can certainly be expected to spread slowly into adjacent open fields and woodland margins.

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Insignificant
Comments: Not reported as established as a non-native other than in the U.S.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Low significance
Comments: Popular for planting because it is fast-growing (at least compared to other oaks) and produces an abundance of acorns; however, it has no other extremely agressive traits.

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low/Insignificant

17. General Management Difficulty:Low significance
Comments: Not a rapid spreader. Can be managed by pulling seedlings and can be removed by cutting mature trees and painting the stump with glyphosate (USFWS BayScapes 2004). Mature trees can be large, so biomass removal may be difficult but periodic, thorough seedling/sapling removal may constitute adequate "control" if done in perpetuity.

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: A concerted effort could achieve control quickly.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Insignificant

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High significance
Comments: Planted on many private lands from which it could spread.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Gilman, E. F. and D. G. Watson. 1994. Quercus acutissima. Fact sheet ST-540. U.S. Forest Service and Southern Group of State Foresters fact sheet adapted from fact sheets of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Agricultural Sciences. Univ. of Florida, Gainseville.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Shimada, T. and T. Saitoh. 2006. Re-evaluation of the relationship between rodent populations and acorn masting: a review from the aspect of nutrients and defensive chemicals in acorns. Population Ecology 48(4): 341-352.

  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture [USDA], Soil Conservation Service. 1988. 'Gobbler' sawtooth oak. Program aid #1497. Online: http://plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/kypmcbrquac80.pdf.

  • USFWS BayScapes Conservation Landscaping Program. 2004. Plant invaders of mid-Atlantic natural areas. Online: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic. Last update: 7 October 2004. Accessed 2007.

  • Whittemore, A. T. 2004. Sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima, Fagaceae) in North America. Sida 21(1): 447-454.

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