Quercus palustris – Pin Oak
Botanical Name: Quercus palustris
Alternate Name: Swamp Spanish Oak
The Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) is a medium sized deciduous tree with an attractive, pyramidal form. It grows to a height of 50-70 feet tall with a spread of 40-60 feet. It belongs to the group of red oaks (Quercus rubra) which have more sharply lobed leaves than other oaks, with bristles or points on each lobe.
This tree’s growth pattern is similar to the Northern Pin Oak. Its upper limbs ascend towards the sky, the middle limbs grow horizontally, and the lower limbs descend, growing towards the ground.
The Pin Oak is native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It gets its name from the branches that break off and leave stubs or pins behind. This occurs when the lower limbs get too shaded and die back.
The flowers are inconspicuous catkins, which develop with male and female flowers on the same tree. They bloom in spring when the leaves unfurl. The leaves grow up to 5 inches in length. They are a glossy dark green with 5 deep lobes, each with a bristle on the tip. The fall color is an attractive, deep red.
The acorns grow up to ½ inch in size, with very shallow cups. The Pin Oak may not bear fruit for up to 15 or 20 years. When they do, they are highly sought after by wildlife. The bark is gray and smooth but develops ridges as the tree matures.
The Pin Oak is tolerant of wet soils and even endures some flooding, although it does prefer acidic, moist loamy soils. This tree should not be planted in alkaline soils as it can cause lasting damage and severe chlorosis of the leaves.