A North American species of medium-sized trees and a common element of America’s north central and northeastern mixed forests. It can survive in a variety of habitats. It forms hybrids with bur oak where they occur together in the wild.
Generally occurs singly in four different forest types: black ash–American elm–red maple, silver maple–American elm, bur oak, and pin oak–sweetgum. Occasionally the swamp white oak is abundant in small areas. It is found within a very wide range of mean annual temperatures from 16 to 4 °C (61 to 39 °F). Extremes in temperature vary from 41 to −34 °C (106 to −29 °F). Average annual precipitation is from 640 to 1,270 mm (25 to 50 in). The frost-free period ranges from 210 days in the southern part of the growing area to 120 days in the northern part. The swamp white oak typically grows on hydromorphic soils. It is not found where flooding is permanent, although it is usually found in broad stream valleys, low-lying fields, and the margins of lakes, ponds, or sloughs. It occupies roughly the same ecological niche as pin oak but is not nearly as abundant. While pin oak seldom lives longer than 100 years; swamp white oak may live up to 300 years.