Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Northern Red Oak (Red Oak)
Quercus rubra
Fagaceae

Leaves are simple, alternate and deciduous with 7-11 bristle-tipped lobes and sinuses that usually extend less than 1/2 way to the midrib. Buds are brown, angled, and smooth with sparse hair at the tip. Bark is gray to black with white streaks forming ski tracks. Fruit is an acorn 1 inch long and matures in two seasons. The acorn cap is sits on the top of the acorn like a beret, covering up to 1/4 of the nut. Form is up to 30 m (100 ft) in height and 1 m (3 ft) in diameter witha straight bole. Northern red oak is found on mesic sites in the east and central U.S. Northern red oak can be distinguished from scarlet oak by better form, lack of rings around the acorn tip, a cap covering about 1/4 of the acorn, more shallow sinuses on most leaves, and a mostly hairless bud. Black oak leaf sinuses and lobing are more variable in the lower canopy, and leaves are more leathery and hairy below. The wood is used for flooring, furniture and cabinets. Acorns eaten by game birds, deer, bear and many small mammals.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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