Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
The Red Oak tree (Quercus rubra), commonly called northern red oak or champion oak, is native to North America.
Useful info about Red Oak trees
|Deciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
|Can grow up to 20+ metres (65+ feet)
|The branches can spread out to 20+ metres (65+ feet)
|Soil Types Preferred
|Chalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand
|Farmland, Gardens, Parks
|Acorns in autumn
Red Oak trees grow from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia, south as far as Georgia and states with good soil that is slightly acidic. Often simply called "red oak", northern red oak is formally so named to distinguish it from southern red oak (Q. falcata), also known as the Spanish oak.
In forests, the northern red oak grows straight and tall, to 28 m (90 ft), exceptionally to 43 m (140 ft) tall, with a trunk of up to 50-100 cm (20-40 in) diameter.
Open-grown trees do not get so tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 2 m (6 ft) in diameter. It has stout branches growing at right angles to the stem, forming a narrow round-topped head.
It grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations, although it prefers the glacial drift and well-drained borders of streams.
It is frequently a part of the canopy in an oak-heath forest, but generally not as important as some other oaks.
Under optimal conditions, northern red oak is fast growing and a 10-year-old tree can be 5-6 m (15-20 ft) tall.
Northern red oak is easy to recognize by its bark, which feature bark ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the center.
A few other oaks have bark with this kind of appearance in the upper tree, but the northern red oak is the only tree with the striping all the way down the trunk.
Bark: Dark reddish grey brown, with broad, thin, rounded ridges, scaly. On young trees and large stems, smooth and light gray. Rich in tannic acid. Branchlets slender, at first bright green, shining, then dark red, finally dark brown. Bark is brownish gray, becoming dark brown on old trees.
Wood: Pale reddish brown, sapwood darker, heavy, hard, strong, coarse-grained. Checks in drying, but when carefully treated could be successfully used for furniture. Also used in construction and for interior finish of houses. Sp. gr., 0.6621; weight of cu. ft., 41.25 lbs.
Winter buds: Dark chestnut brown (reddish brown), ovate, acute, generally 6 mm long
Leaves: Alternate, seven to nine-lobed, oblong-ovate to oblong, five to ten inches long, four to six inches broad; seven to eleven lobes tapering gradually from broad bases, acute, and usually repandly dentate and terminating with long bristle-pointed teeth; the second pair of lobes from apex are largest; midrib and primary veins conspicuous.
Lobes are less deeply cut than most other oaks of the red oak group (except for black oak which can be similar). Leaves emerge from the bud convolute, pink, covered with soft silky down above, coated with thick white tomentum below. When full grown are dark green and smooth, sometimes shining above, yellow green, smooth or hairy on the axils of the veins below.
In autumn they turn a rich red, sometimes brown. Often the petiole and midvein are a rich red color in midsummer and early autumn, though this is not true of all red oaks.
Petioles year, about 18 months after pollination; solitary or in pairs, sessile or stalked; nut oblong-ovoid with broad flat base, full, with acute apex, one half to one and one-fourth of an inch long, first green, maturing nut-brown; cup, saucer-shaped and shallow, 2cm (0.8 in) wide, usually covering only the base, sometimes one-fourth of the nut, thick, shallow, reddish brown, somewhat downy within, covered with thin imbricated reddish brown scales.
Kernel white and very bitter. Despite this bitterness, they are eaten by deer, squirrels and birds.
The northern red oak is one of the most important oaks for timber production in North America. The wood is of high value. Other related oaks are also cut and marketed as red oak, although their wood is not always of as high a quality.
These include black oak, scarlet oak, pin oak, Shumard oak, southern red oak and other species in the red oak group.
The northern red oak is widely planted and naturalized also located in Central Europe. Other uses can be used for flooring, veneer, interior trim, and furniture.
Red oak wood grain is so open that smoke can be blown through it from end-grain to end-grain on a flatsawn board.
Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.
Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.
Culture and Symbolism
Oak trees are believed to represent strength, endurance, sovereignty, rulership and power.
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