Northern Red Oak

Botanical Name: Quercus rubra

The Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) is a popular and adaptable medium to large sized deciduous tree. It is native to the eastern and central United States, as well as southeastern and south-central Canada. The growth habit is rounded but somewhat irregular, with an open, spreading crown. It grows to a height of 50-75 feet tall with a spread of 50-75 feet. 

The Northern Red Oak tree is a member of the group of red oaks. Characteristic sharp bristles grow on the leaf lobes of these oaks. They also have acorns that develop after two growing seasons and mature in the spring.

The flowers of the Northern Red Oak are catkins – both male and female flowers grow on the same tree. They are yellowish-green, inconspicuous, and bloom in late spring. The fruits are acorns that grow up to ¾ -1 inch in size and sit on a flat cup. The Northern Red Oak may not produce a big crop of acorns until it reaches 40 years old.

The leaves are a glossy, deep green with light undersides and can grow up to 8 inches long. They have 7-11 lobes that taper to a sharp point at the end. In the fall, the leaves turn a brownish-red color.

The Northern Red Oak likes to grow in fairly dry conditions. It can withstand city conditions and works well as a street tree when there are no overhead height restrictions, such as powerlines.

It can develop chlorotic leaves when it is planted in soils that are too alkaline. It can be susceptible to oak wilt but in general is a tough and long-living tree.

Height: 50-75 ft.

Width: 50-75 ft.

Shape: Rounded

Flower Color: Yellowish-Green

Flowering Time: May

Fall Color: Brownish-Red

Features: Attractive foliage, beautiful shade and street tree

Exposure: Full Sun

Watering: Light/Moderate, tolerates drought

Soil: Prefers rich and fairly dry, acidic, sandy soils

Growth Rate: Moderate-Fast

USDA Zones: 4-8

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

Similar trees: Quercus imbricaria (Shingle Oak), Quercus ellipsoidalis (Northern Pin Oak), Quercus velutina (Northern Black Oak), Quercus coccinea (Scarlet Oak), Quercus palustris (Pin Oak)

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