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Quercus palustris is often confused with:
Quercus coccinea Form
Quercus texana Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Quercus nigra Quercus nigra
Quercus laurifolia Form of tree (Pitt County, NC)-Mid Fall
Quercus pagoda Form
Quercus palustris has some common insect problems:
Common Insect Pests of Oak in North Carolina
Oak Pest Management Calendar
Quercus palustris has some common disease problems:
Common Disease Pests of Oak in North Carolina

Oaks Quercus palustris

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Quercus rubra var. dissecta
  • Quercus rubra var. palustris
Phonetic Spelling
KWER-kus pa-LUS-tris
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Pin oak is a medium-sized, deciduous tree in the Fagaceae (beech) family and is one of the faster-growing red oaks, generally reaching a height of 50 to 70 feet with a trunk about 3 feet in diameter. The genus name, Quercus, is the Latin name for oak trees. The epithet, palustris, is from the Latin word palus, which means of marshes or swamps and refers to its native habitat. This tree is native to the northeastern and north-central United States and southeastern Canada. 

Pin oak prefers medium to wet, loamy, acidic soils and full sun. It can tolerate poorly drained soils and some flooding, but it is adaptable to drier and urban conditions. It is shallow-rooted and easily transplanted.

Pin oak has a more slender and graceful appearance than some oaks. The crown is pyramidal when young and becomes more rounded and oval with age. The branching pattern is unique with the lowermost branches being angled sharply downward, the middle branches horizontal, and the upper branches ascending. Young trees and lower branches of older trees hold leaves throughout winter. The fall foliage is orange, or bronze to red. This oak won’t begin producing acorns until around 15 to 20 years old. 

Pin oak is very popular and frequently used as a shade tree for home landscapes, urban streets, parks, and woodland gardens. It is tolerant of many soil conditions, heat, and air pollution, but it is toxic to horses.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Medium-sized deciduous tree with a pyramidal habit when young, rounded and oval with age
  • Smooth, gray bark
  • Dark-green leaves on both sides with five to seven sharply pointed lobes and deep U-shaped sinuses, vein piercing through the margin at the tip of the leaf, bristles at the tip, and small tufts of tan-colored hair at the axils of the leaf veins
  • Long pendulous chains of yellow to greenish-yellow male flowers in the spring
  • Tan, rounded, acorn fruits with a thin smooth cap that covers one fourth to one third of the fruit

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Pin oak is infrequently attacked by the common diseases of oaks. It is susceptible to iron chlorosis due to alkaline soils, which cause yellow coloration in the leaves through the summer months and can eventually kill the tree. Insect pests include gypsy moth, obscure scale, oak leaftier, pin oak sawfly, scarlet oak sawfly, forest tent caterpillar, leaf roller, horned oak gall wasp, and gouty oak gall wasp. Disease problems include oak wilt, oak leaf blister, pin oak blight, and Dothiorella canker.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Green Pillar'
'Green Pillar'
Tags:
#wildlife plant#moths#tsc#fast growing#nighttime garden#pollinator plant#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#tsc-t#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:
  • 'Green Pillar'
'Green Pillar'
Tags:
#wildlife plant#moths#tsc#fast growing#nighttime garden#pollinator plant#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#tsc-t#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:
    palustris
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Due to its hardy stature, it is used often for an ornamental tree. In the past, Native Americans used this tree to make fasteners and even medicine.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South Ontario to North Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    Native: United States--AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, TN, VA, WI, WV. Canada--Ontario Introduced: Austria, Denmark, Germany Hungary, and Romania
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts songbirds, water birds, ground birds and mammals. Acorns are an important food source for many animals. 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.
    Play Value:
    Easy to Grow
    Edible fruit
    Shade
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Mildly resistant to damage by deer. Heat, drought, and soil compaction tolerant.
    Edibility:
    Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 70 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 40 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    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
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/4-1/2-inch acorns are round and short-stalked occurring singly or in clusters of 2-3, from light brown to reddish-brown with a shallow and thin cup. The fruits are initially green and then tan. The cap is thin and smooth and covers 1/4 to 1/3 of the fruit. Displays from October to November. It may take up to 15 to 20 years before the tree produces acorns.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    It has both male and female flowers on each tree. Male pollen flowers are in pendulous, drooping, elongated yellow or yellowish-green clusters, and female flowers are on short spikes. Pistillate flowers on short stalks from the axils of the current year’s leaves. Blooms from March to April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    5-inch glossy green leaves have 5 bristle-tipped lobes and U-shaped sinuses, which cut deeply to the midrib. At the tip of the leaf, the vein pierces through the margin of the leaf. The leaf shape is elliptic with the widest area in the middle of the leaf. The leaves are the same color green on both sides and are not glaucous. There are small tufts of tan-colored hairs at the axil of the leaf veins. Fall color is dark red to russet and leaves persist into winter on younger trees.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is smooth and reddish to grayish-brown when young, then darker with shallow fissures as it ages.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems are smooth, slender and reddish-brown.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heat
    Pollution
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Stomach pain, constipation and later bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination if young leaves and raw acorns eaten.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Gallotannins, quercitrin, and quercitin.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves