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Similar but less problematic plants:
Quercus palustris Form, in the early fall.
Quercus rubra Full Form
Quercus coccinea is often confused with:
Quercus palustris Form, in the early fall.
Quercus shumardii Form
Quercus x bushii Form of tree (Moore County, NC)-Early Fall
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Quercus alba Full Form
Quercus nigra Quercus nigra
Quercus falcata Tree form (Greensboro, NC)-Mid Fall
Quercus coccinea has some common insect problems:
Common Insect Pests of Oak in North Carolina
Oak Pest Management Calendar
Quercus coccinea has some common disease problems:
Common Disease Pests of Oak in North Carolina

Black Oak Quercus coccinea

Other plants called Black Oak:

Previously known as:

  • Quercus rubra var. coccinea
Phonetic Spelling
KWER-kus kok-SIN-ee-a
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Scarlet oak is a native large broadleaf deciduous tree with a rounded, open habit, and grows 50 to 80 feet tall and spreads between 45 to 60 feet. It is best known for its vibrant scarlet red fall foliage and is usually planted for its ornamental value. This tree is long-lived, durable, and easy to grow. It is a member of the Fagaceae or beech family.

It is native to North Central and the Eastern United States. It is found in dry upland forests in the Piedmont and middle to lower mountains of North Carolina.

The genus name, Quercus, is the Latin name for oak trees. The epithet, coccinea, means scarlet and refers to the fall foliage color.

 The tree prefers acidic, sandy soils on the dry side, but it will tolerate other soils if they are well-drained. The scarlet oak is difficult to transplant due to its tap root. It does not develop chlorosis as often as other oaks, but it can be less tolerant of other adverse conditions. 

The bark is dark brown and has fine fissures and scaly ridges. The stems are reddish-brown and smooth.  Foliage is glossy, lobed, and green in the spring and summer. The lobes are pointed, bristle-tipped, and C-shaped. The male and female flowers are not showy. The fruit is an acorn with a deep bowl-shaped cap cover.

The tree is an important source of food for many wildlife species. For an oak, it grows fast and bears acorns in 20 years. 

The scarlet oak and pin oak are frequently confused. The scarlet oak has lobed leaves that form a C-shape, and the acorn cap is a deep bowl shape. The pin oak; however, has U-shaped lobed leaves and a thin cap cover. 

The scarlet oak is a popular and has spectacular fall color. It will add interest to the landscape if used as a specimen, shade tree, or street tree. As with all oaks, it is a high-value wildlife plant, but is toxic to horses.

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage:  Summer and Fall        Fruit:  Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • young bark is grayish-brown with smooth streak
  • bark becomes darker and develops ridges and fissures with age
  • stems are reddish-brown with reddish-brown buds
  • leaves are alternate, simple, 3 to 7 inches long, glossy green, paler on the undersides with 7 to 9 bristle tipped lobes, C-shaped
  • the male flowers are slender, yellowish-green catkins, and the female flowers appear as short spikes
  • small to medium-sized acorn with a deep bowl-like, shiny, scaly cap

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Leaf spots, anthracnose, canker, mildew, rust, rots, galls, and numerous insect problems have been reported. This tree is highly susceptible to oak wilt.  It is not as susceptible to chlorosis in alkaline soils like its close relative the Pin Oak (Q. palustris) This tree is also susceptible to fire damage due to its thin bark. 

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#poisonous#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#edible plant#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#fall interest#street tree#small mammals#food source wildlife#fire low flammability#NC native#black bears#wild turkeys#deer resistant#blue jays#nighttime garden#small and large mammals#edible fruits#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#partial shade tolerant#problem for horses#Audubon#banded hairstreak butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#imperial moth#juvenal’s duskywing butterfly#edward’s hairstreak butterfly#white-m hairstreak butterfly#horace’s duskywing butterfly#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#poisonous#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#edible plant#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#fall interest#street tree#small mammals#food source wildlife#fire low flammability#NC native#black bears#wild turkeys#deer resistant#blue jays#nighttime garden#small and large mammals#edible fruits#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#partial shade tolerant#problem for horses#Audubon#banded hairstreak butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#imperial moth#juvenal’s duskywing butterfly#edward’s hairstreak butterfly#white-m hairstreak butterfly#horace’s duskywing butterfly#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Quercus
    Species:
    coccinea
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans and pioneers used the acorns for food. Roasted acorns have been ground and used as a coffee substitute. The wood is used in construction for floors, etc.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northern Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    Native: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Oak trees support a wide variety of Lepidopteran. You may see Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed. Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus), which have one flight from June-August everywhere but Florida where they emerge April-May. Edward's Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii), has one flight from May-July in the south and June-July in the north. Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), has three to four flights in the south from February-November and two flights in the north from May-September. White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) has three broods in the north from February-October. Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius) has three broods in Texas and the deep south from January-November, and two broods in the north from April-September. Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis) has one brood from April-June, appearing as early as January in Florida. Acorns are eaten by woodpeckers, blue jays, small mammals, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and black bear.
    Play Value:
    Shade
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Wildlife Nesting
    Edibility:
    Acorns can be eaten once to tannins have been leached or boiled out.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 45 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Open
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a 1/2- to 1-inch-long acorn that occurs singly or in pairs and is half covered by a deep bowl-like cap. The exposed acorn often has concentric, circular rings. The cap scales are shiny. Bitter in taste and require 2 seasons to mature. It starts producing at age 20.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    The male flowers are slender, yellowish-green catkins. The female flowers are short axillary spikes. They appear in the spring as the leaves emerge.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are 3 to 7 inches long and 3-5 inches wide and are a lustrous dark green above and paler below. The deeply cut lobes are bristle-tipped with C-shaped deep sinuses and 7 pointed lobes. The fall color is scarlet, showy and occurs late.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    On young trees, the bark is gray-brown, with smooth streaks. Later becomes darker and develops irregular broad ridges and narrow furrows especially near the base. Often spotted with gray. The inner bark is reddish to orangish.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Terminal:
    Cluster of terminal buds
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are stout and reddish-brown with multiple terminal reddish-brown buds that are plump and pointed.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Abdominal pain, constipation then diarrhea (occasionally bloody), depression, frequent urination, discolored urine, jaundice; acorns can obstruct the digestive tract
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Gallotannins, quercitrin, and quercitin.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds