Oak (Quercus)

Quick facts and care essentials

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• Deciduous or evergreen
• Climate zones vary
• Full sun
• Water needs vary
• Growth rate varies

Among the oaks are some of our most treasured large shade trees. But not all oaks are large; you'll find small and medium-size sorts as well. Many (but not all) have the typical lobed leaves; all produce acorns. In general, oaks grow best in deep soil that provides the anchorage their root systems need. A few widely adapted oaks are listed here.

Scarlet oak (Q. coccinea). Zones 2-24, 31-41. Deciduous. Grows at a moderate to fast rate, reaching 60 to 80 feet tall, 40 to 50 feet wide. It has a high, light, open-branching habit and deep roots--features that make it a good choice for a lawn or garden tree. Bright green, 3- to 6-inch-long leaves turn scarlet where autumn weather is cold. Give moderate water.

Holly oak (Q. ilex). Zones 4-24, warmer parts of 32. Evergreen. A dense tree that grows at a moderate rate to 40 to 70 feet high and broad. Leaves are dark green above, yellowish or silvery beneath; they reach 3 inches long and may have smooth or toothed edges. Needs moderate watering; tolerates wind and salt air. A good street or lawn tree.

Pin oak (Q. palustris). Zones 2-10, 14-24, 28-41. Deciduous. Reaches 50 to 70 feet tall, 25 to 40 feet wide, growing at a moderate to fast rate. Young trees are pyramidal, but their outline broadens with maturity; lowest branches droop almost to the ground. The glossy dark green leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and wide, deeply cut into bristle-pointed lobes. In brisk fall weather, leaves turn yellow, then red, then russet brown. Needs plenty of water; tolerates poorly drained soils. Widely used as a lawn and street tree.

 

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