Northern Pin Oak

Botanical Name: Quercus ellipsoidalis

Alternate Name: Hill’s Oak

The Northern Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) is very similar to the Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea). It was discovered in 1891 by the Reverend Ernest J. Hill in Illinois. He noticed that the fall leaf color, the shape of the acorn, and the bark color were all distinctive enough from the Scarlet Oak to warrant this tree being named a different oak species. This oak is a medium to large sized deciduous tree. It is native to some parts of the midwestern United States and Canada.

The growth habit of the Northern Pin Oak is rounded with a spreading, open crown. It can be distinguished from the Scarlet Oak by its upward growing higher branches and downward growing lower branches. It grows to a height of 50-70 feet tall with a spread of 40-60 feet. When shaded, the lower limbs can break off, leaving stubs or pins. This gives the tree its common name – Northern Pin Oak – not to be confused with the Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), which grows in the southern US.

The flowers are inconspicuous catkins. The fruits are an ellipsoid shape, giving this tree its Latin name – Quercus ellipsoidalis. The acorns grow up to ¾ inch in size. The leaves are 3-7 inches in length. They are glossy and dark green with deep, sharp, bristled lobes. Their fall color is brownish-red.

The Northern Pin Oak is susceptible to chlorosis in alkaline soils. The roots prefer an acidic environment. This tree is one of the faster growing oak trees.

Height: 50-70 ft.

Width: 40-60 ft.

Shape: Rounded

Flower Color: Yellowish-Green

Flowering Time: April-May

Fall Color: Red

Features: Beautiful shade tree

Exposure: Full Sun

Watering: Light/Moderate, tolerates some drought

Soil: Prefers dry, acidic, sandy soils

Growth Rate: Moderate-fast

USDA Zones: 4-7

Uses: Lawn tree, shade tree, park tree, street tree

Similar Trees: Shingle Oak (Quercus imbricaria), Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), Northern Black Oak (Quercus velutina), Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

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