Quercus rubra

Red Oak, Northern Red Oak




  • northeastern and north-central U. S.
  • zone 3

Habit and Form

  • a large, deciduous tree
  • to 75' tall
  • rounded outline
  • upright spreading branches
  • large single trunk
  • long-lived

Summer Foliage

  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • 5" to 8" long leaves; 4' to 6" wide
  • 7 to 11 bristle-tipped broad lobes
  • mature foliage color is dark green above
  • leaf surface lustrous

Autumn Foliage

  • a mixture of russet-red, yellow and tan
  • color develops late
  • can be quite good or disappointing


  • pale yellow-green catkins (male)
  • adds slight seasonal interest in May
  • monoecious


  • 0.75" to 1" long brown acorn
  • borne singly or in pairs
  • acorns have a large, saucer-like cap
  • takes two years to mature (black oak group)
  • can be numerous, creating a litter problem on lawns and sidewalks


  • brown to black on old branches and trunks
  • shallow fissures and ridges that deepen as a plant gets older
  • bark on young branches is smooth


  • full sun
  • well drained, acidic, sandy loans are best
  • easily transplanted for an oak
  • grows rapidly for an oak
  • withstands urban conditions well
  • needs ample room to develop

Landscape Use

  • shade tree
  • lawn tree
  • campuses
  • golf courses
  • possible street tree where space is sufficient


  • chlorosis on high pH soils
  • oak wilt has been a problem in the middle U.S.
  • needs room to develop
  • numerous caterpillars enjoy oak foliage, but feeding damage is usually not severe

ID Features

  • large tree
  • 7 to 11 broad lobes with a bristle at the tip
  • large brown acorns with a flat, saucer-like cap
  • buds are chestnut brown


  • by seed


'Aurea' - Not common in the United States, this selection features young leaves with a golden yellow color. This effect will probably fade with the onset of warm weather in hot summer areas of the United States.

'Splendens' - This selection is notable for its fine red fall color. It is not commonly available.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.