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Red Oak Tree Varieties, Benefits, Care and Frequently Asked Questions

Red Oak Tree

The Red oak tree is a timber tree belonging to the beech family. They are wooden shrubs and trees with bristle leaves lined with hairy shells and bitter seeds that mature in two growing seasons. Red oak has one of the most fantastic fall foliage and outlives its growers. It is also effortless to transplant.

The red attached to it is due to the bright red color in the leaf veins on the underside of the leaves. The red oak trees thrive in any environment and soil conditions but have a faster growth rate in slightly acidic soil. The plant is usually grown for ornamental purposes. Read on to learn interesting facts about this fast growing plant.

Types Of Red Oak Tree

The red oaks are divided into two major types, namely:

Northern Red Oak

The Northern red oak trees (Quercus rubra) have matte green tops while the bottom is pale yellow green catkins and hairy. It turns russet red in autumn and remains firmly until winter. This red oak tree has drought tolerance and grows in a round shape.

It also tolerates pollution and well drained soil. It can grow in acidic, sandy, loamy, and clay soils. The northern red oak has gained popularity with lumbermen and landscapers since the colonial era. The deciduous tree has also been favored for transplantation in Europe.

Northern red oak trees are fast growing (this explains why timber industries use them). It’s in the form of an open canopy, which helps it grow taller. The tree grows to 25 meters when fully grown, with shiny green leaves.

The Northern red oak tree species is tolerant to strong winds. Also, it has a high marketable value and has been in existence for over 400 years. In addition, it grows up to 2 feet each year for about ten years.

To ensure that the branches of northern red oak trees stay healthy, you are to prune them occasionally at infancy. You must do this carefully or seek expert advice to avoid damaging the tree.

Southern Red Oaks

Southern red oak, which is also called Spanish oak (Q. falcata). The Southern red oak trees, on the other hand, have a shiny dark green color on the top and rusty and hairy on the bottom.

This red oak tree species has a deep root system, a short trunk, and two types of leaves. One has three leaves, and the other has five to seven deep leaves. The terminal leaves are further divided.

It is an enormous tree, up to 36 m in height, with more uniform 5-11 leaf leaves. It has a length of 23 cm and is often 23 cm long. The grayish brown to black scaly skin resembles the skin of black cherry.

Other Types Of Red Oak Trees?

Below are other types of red oak trees, though most of them are not less-widely known compared to the two mentioned above:

Willock Oak

Willow oak grows naturally in poorly drained areas of the Atlantic and Gulf Plains and the Mississippi Valley region of North America. It is widely planted in the southern United States as a street or shade tree. It has shallow roots and can live for over 100 years.

Southern Live Oak

Southern live oak species are natural in the coastal plains of Cuba, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf, often growing to heights of 15 meters (50 feet) or more on hills and ridges but wrinkled on poor coastal soils.

The trunk is separated near the ground, and several branches can grow horizontally up to 2-3 times the tree’s height. It grows rapidly in well drained soils and optimal conditions, but not as long as previously thought. The oldest known specimens are 200-300 years old.

Black Oak

Black oak has a blackish outer back that is ridged in irregular blocks. It has an orange-yellow inner back and a source of quercitron and tannin.

The leaves are usually seven on the top, shiny dark green, dull on the bottom, sometimes flaky, and orange in the fall. It turns red or brown. The trees are distributed throughout the eastern United States. They do not tolerate shade and grow on exposed slopes and ridges.

Pin Oak

Pin oaks are found in Eastern and Central US soils and moist highland soils. It has a wide pyramidal crown and hanging lower branches. The oval, shiny green leaves, about 13 cm (5 inches) long, have 5-7 deeply torn leaves, and in the fall, it turns scarlet.

Planting of the Red Oak Tree

The tree is best planted in Spring or Fall. This season is preferred so that the roots can settle in before the advent of hot weather. It requires a vast space for growth.

Before planting, ensure the planting space is such that the tree won’t interfere with buildings or roads when grown. Also, ensure the tree is produced in an area with access to direct sunlight. For the red oak tree to thrive, it needs at least six (6) hours of sunlight daily. In addition, where the space has depleted soil, dig the soil and place organic matter/droppings in it before planting.

These trees should be planted in a hole that has at least twice the width of the root ball, and then the holes should be filled with a mixture of soil and compost. Water the tree deeply and slowly so that the area around the root sphere is saturated. A layer of bark mulch keeps the roots cold and moist.

When the tree is in its infant stage, ensure to build a fence around it to protect it from animals such as rabbits.

Dressing of the Red Oak Tree

For the dressing of the tree, ensure that it is always moist; thus, water it at least once a week. However, when rainfall occurs in a week, you can skip the watering process for that week. This is done when the tree is still in its infant stage. When the tree gets past the infant stage, you can do away with the watering procedure because by then, it will be strong enough to withstand the dry weather on its own.

In a situation where the infant tree is attacked by fungus podosphaera xanthii, thus resulting in powdery mildew, you are to apply fungicide on the tree. In using the fungicide, ensure you do so at least 24 hours before the arrival of rain or before you water the tree. This is to ensure that the fungicide is not rendered weak by water.

In addition, if you notice aphids on the tree, use organic sprays on them such as soap and water or remove them by hand by spraying water on them. Ensure to do this as soon as possible because Aphids are pests that reproduce quickly and suck out the fluids from plants they feed on.

Another disease that can affect the oak tree is oak wilt. This disease is a type of disease that affects oak trees and makes their leaves lost at the top and eventually die. When it comes to oak wilt, there is no cure as prevention is better.

To prevent oak wilt, you can avoid pruning the oak trees during the growing season. Another Preventive measure is to destroy oak trees that are infested to prevent spreading the disease to non-infected ones.

Benefits of the Red Oak Tree

The benefits of this tree are numerous. They include:

  • It serves as a shade during summer.
  •  It serves as an aesthetic near sidewalks in big cities due to its attractive appearance.
  • Acons from this tree serve as food for squirrels and raccoons.
  • These red oak trees serve as timber to woodworkers because they are good woods.
  • It serves as a nesting place for mammals.
  • The acons used to be eaten by nineteen century native Americans.
  •  The red oak is said to have medicinal value and can aid in curing diseases such as bronchial infections and heart issues.
  • They are also used to make furniture, agricultural implements, and railway tiles.
  • They can serve as fuel for heating and cooking.

Other Oak Tree

Red oak is a member of a more prominent family. Other members are -Bur oak, Japanese evergreen oak, pin oak, English oak, scarlet oak, blackjack oak, water oak, and white oak.

Bur Oak

Bur oak grows 70 to 80 feet (22-24 m.)high. It has unusual branch structures and deeply grooved bark that keeps the tree interesting in winter—further north and west than other white oak species. The bur oak is known for its resistance to insects and fungal attacks, drought, and air pollution. It has refractory bark and dark green and shiny top, dull and whitish leaves at the bottom. The wide upper half of each leaf is separated from the narrow lower part by two deep bulges and heavy edging acorn cups.

Japanese Evergreen Oak

The Japanese Evergreen Oak is the smallest of the oaks, and the Japanese evergreen oak grows up to  20 to 30 feet  (6-9 m.) high and 20 feet wide (6 m.)wide. It prefers warm coastal areas in the southeast. It has a growing habit of protected inland shrubs and is ideal for lawn trees and privacy screens. Even though the trees are small, they provide good shades.

Pin Oak

Pin oak grows 60 – 75 feet  (18-23 m.) high and 25-40 feet (8-12 m.) wide. It has a straight trunk and a well-formed canopy, with the upper branches growing upwards and the lower branches hanging downwards. The branch in the middle of the tree is almost horizontal. It will be a lovely shade tree, but you may need to remove some of the lower branches to make a room.

English Oak 

The English oak tree has a short, sturdy trunk with wide branches and can grow up to 25 meters in height. (82 feet). The short sterm leaves are over  13 cm (5 inches) in length and have three to seven pairs of rounded leaves; The top is dark green, and the bottom is light green, which retains its color even in winter. Many variants are cultivated as decorative plants, including a popular columnar shape. This heavy wood core was once widely used in the UK for shipbuilding and carving.

Scarlet Oak

Scarlet oak is a short, rapidly tapered trunk, leaving a nearly circular sinus. It is a popular ornamental plant with scarlet autumn leaves. It is similar to Nuttall oak because it has a short, rapidly tapered trunk, leaving an almost circular sinus. It is a popular ornamental plant with scarlet autumn leaves. Nut tall oak is an elongated, often pyramidal tree that resembles scarlet oak, except for elongated, often striped acorns. The Shumard oak is a tall (up to 23 m) wetland tree with an open canopy, a long, transparent trunk, and 7-9 leaves.

Water Oak

Water oak, also known as possum oak, is a type of oak tree that grows naturally in the coastal plains of the southeastern United States. The plants are adapted to high humidity conditions along the riverbank but can withstand drier soil. This tree is fairly short-lived (less than 80 years old) and is often planted as a shaded tree due to its wide canopy. Water oak has shiny turquoise leaves of different sizes and shapes.

White Oak 

White oak trees have been in existence for centuries, and just like the red oak, they serve as shade to humans and animals. To ensure the good health and strength of your white oak, it is essential to take proper care of it or engage the services of tree experts to do so on your behalf. Unlike the red oak trees, white oak trees are slow growers that can live for up to 500 years. White oak trees are flower-producing trees. They also produce acorns. They are capable of producing male flowers as well as female ones. The hardwood obtained from white oak is suitable for constructing ships, furniture, flooring, barrels, etc.

There are several variants of white oak, such as the Arizona white oak, chinquapin, sessile oak, swamp white oak, Oregon oak, and valley oak.

Arizona White Oak

The Arizona white oak is a large semi-evergreen oak wood that grows to 55 feet. Its widespread branches stand prominently at right angles to the trunk, forming an irregularly widespread crown. In the spring, elongated leaves fall. It is one of the largest oaks in the southwest. Also, it is a stately tree that reaches its largest size in canyons and other moist areas.

Chinquapin Oak

Chinquapin oak is also called yellow chestnut oak. This oak is found in rocky soils in the eastern United States and southern Canada. It is usually about 21 m (70 feet) high but can be as high as 30 m. It has dark, tannin-rich bark and deep vertical ribs. The chestnut-like spear-like leaves are about 18 cm long have 10 to 15 pairs of parallel veins, each ending with round teeth.

Sessile Oak

Sessile oak is also called cornish oak. It is native to most of Europe and Iran. Sessile Oak is the national tree of the Republic of Ireland and an unofficial symbol of Wales and Cornwall. Sessile Oak is one of the most important species in Europe, both economically and ecologically.

Oregon Oak

Oregon Oak is an oak that grows from above sea level to an altitude of 210 meters (690 feet) in the northern part of the range and  300 to 1,800 meters (980 to 5,910 feet) in the southern part of the California area. It is known as Oregon oak in the United States and Gary oak in Canada.

Valley Oak

Valley oak is also known as roble. This type of oak tree requires constant access to groundwater. It is suitable for hardwood flooring, cabinetry, and water-tight vessels.

Blackjack Oak

Blackjack oak is a sandy soil covering tree in eastern North America, growing to a height of about 9-15 m, with three-leafed leaves with wide tips. The top is shiny dark green, bottom. It’s rusty and hairy.

It is noteworthy to mention that the two major oak trees with economic value are the red oak trees and white oak trees.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers On Red Oak Tree Species

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions on the fast growing red oak tree species:

Are there other types of red oaks?

Yes. There are other types of red oak tree species, and they are willow oak, live oak, black oak, and pin oak. However, the two significant types are southern red oak and northern red oak.

Do red oak trees have any cons?

Yes, they do. One of the cons of red oak is that it shrinks. Another disadvantage is that it is extremely heavy. Thirdly, they can have bad reactions with oil finishes when exposed to wet and cold weather due to their high tannin content.

What is the difference between red oak and white oak?

Although red oak plant is one of the most widely used hardwoods in the market, it has been argued that white oak is more durable.

The advantages of red oak precede it as it remains one of the go-to options for hardwood for domestic projects. The benefits are that it has an easy finishing and can stain without blotching. It is unique, thus making it possible to customize the appearance of the finished project.

Another advantage is that it strikes the perfect balance between workability and hardness. The disadvantages of the red oak tree may make woodworkers give preference to the white oak in some given situations.

The disadvantages are that it can dent easily as opposed to other varieties. Another disadvantage is that it is unsuitable for projects requiring it to have contact with water. Water penetration can cause it to have an unsightly black mark. On this point, white oak gains an advantage over red oak because it has obstructed pores. Also, red oak plant rots faster than white oak.


The ornamental value of the red oak plant is quite apparent, and as such, its other uses are rarely appreciated. A critical look at the above exposition on the beech family can assist you in placing better value on not just the red oak plant but other oaks in general. Let’s know your thoughts about the red oak in the comments!

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