Sub-category: Hydrangea genus
Oakleaf hydrangea and the popular peegee hydrangea (H. paniculata) are the only hydrangeas with cone-shaped flower clusters; all the others have their flowers in ball-shaped or flat-topped clusters, called umbels. It is a coarse-textured deciduous shrub growing to 8 m tall with an open crown. The plant sprouts shoots from underground stolons and often grows in colonies. Young stems are covered in a felt-like light brown bark, and the larger stems have attractive cinnamon-tan-orange bark that shreds and peels in thin flakes. The leaves are yellowish green to dark green on top and silvery-white underneath. They have three, five or seven pointed lobes and are 10 to 30 cm long and almost as wide. Flowers are borne in erect panicles 15 to 30 cm tall and 7 to 12 cm wide at branch tips. Flowers age in color from creamy white, aging to pink and by autumn and winter are a dry, papery rusty-brown.
Native to continental North America it grows in mixed hardwood forests, along streams and on forested hillsides, usually on calcareous soils, and often where limestone is at the ground surface. Hydrangea quercifolia is an understory shrub, often in the shade of large oaks, hickories, magnolias, American beech, etc.