Trees , deciduous, to 40 m. Bark nearly black with narrow and noticeably flaky ridges, often resembling that of wild black cherry, inner bark orange. Twigs yellowish brown, 2-3.5 mm diam., pubescent. Terminal buds light reddish brown, ovoid, 4-9 mm, strongly 5-angled in cross section, puberulent throughout. Leaves: petiole 20-50 mm, glabrate or pubescent. Leaf blade ovate to elliptic or obovate, 90-300 × 60-160 mm, base cuneate to rounded or truncate, margins with 5-11 lobes and 10-25 awns, lobes oblong, rarely falcate, terminal lobe rarely exceeding lateral lobes in length, apex acute; surfaces abaxially pale, tomentose, adaxially glossy, glabrous, secondary veins raised on both surfaces. Acorns biennial; cup saucer-shaped to cup-shaped, 3-7 mm high × 10-18 mm wide, covering 1/3-1/2 nut, outer surface puberulent, inner surface pubescent, scale tips tightly appressed, acute; nut subglobose, 9-15 × 8-16 mm, often striate, puberulent, scar diam. 5-9 mm. Flowering spring. Poorly drained bottoms and mesic slopes; 0-300 m; Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Miss., Mo., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va. Quercus pagoda is often treated as a variety of Q . falcata ; it is quite distinctive, however, both morphologically and ecologically (S. A. Ware 1967; R. J. Jensen 1989). This species reportedly hybridizes with Q . falcata and Q . phellos (D. M. Hunt 1989).
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This species grows on low banks and in low land in close proximity to sloughs, bayous, and ponds in Gibson and Posey Counties.
Large tree, to 30(-35) m; bark of middle-sized trunks with numerous small, flat plates, much as in Prunus serotina, at full maturity finely multiridged and -furrowed; lvs more regularly and uniformly lobed than in no. 22 [Quercus falcata Michx.], the middle lobes usually with short, widely spreading upper edge and longer, more tapering lower edge, the terminal lobe relatively short and broad, often tapering from the base, not falcate; otherwise much like no. 22 [Quercus falcata Michx.] Typically in bottomland hardwood forests; s. N.J. to Ga., nw. Fla., and e. Tex. mainly on the coastal plain, and up the Mississippi embayment to w. Ky. and s. Ind. (Q. falcata var. pagodaefolia)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.