Quercus rubra - Northern Red Oak
Family: Fagaceae

Hear the scientific name

Quercus rubra is a large shade tree that thrives in dry sites, often with good brick-red autumn color, becoming very rounded to spreading with age. Northern Red Oak is probably the most common landscape Oak of the midwest.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form Form

-large shade tree

-maturing at about 60' tall x 80' wide under urban conditions, but much larger in the wild

-upright oval growth habit in youth, becoming rounded to spreading with age

-medium growth rate

foliage2 foliage Foliage


-shiny dark green, alternate, with an overall shape that is obovate and about 7" long, with 7-11 prominent bristle-tipped lobes (identifying it as belonging to the Red Oak group), with each lobe incised and with a deep sinus on each side, having a 1.5" long petiole that turns a distinctive yellow or red by mid-summer

-autumn color is usually brick red to scarlet and very attractive (but may on occasion be brown-red to yellowish-brown in poor years)


-yellow-brown pendulous male catkins are obvious and prominent in late Apr., but are ornamentally insignificant, as are the very small pistillate flowers


-a relatively large oval acorn (1" long) that matures over 2 seasons, with a wide cap that covers the upper one-fourth of the nut, on a very short peduncle and either single or in pairs, but clustered on the second-year wood and often with a heavy mast crop (abundant fruit production)


-greenish- to reddish-brown, turning gray by the second year and somewhat stout

trunk Trunk

-dark gray to black, being lightly furrowed with flat-topped subtle ridges through middle age, and becoming deeply furrowed with a light reddish interior bark in old age

-branches arising directly from the trunk are relatively few, but large, adding to the bold texture by their size, and by exposing the large trunk more than most Oaks

C   U   L   T   U   R   E


-full sun to partial sun (partial shade tolerant in youth)

-performs best in full sun in moist, deep, acidic, well-drained soils, but is very adaptable to poor soils, dry soils, and soils of various pH

-propagated by seeds

-no serious diseases or pests

-commonly available in the trade

-member of the Red Oak group; some of these members may hybridize freely in the wild, resulting in a blending of traits such as leaf shape and fruit size

distribution map


-zones 5 to 8


-native to the Eastern half of the U.S.

U   S   A   G   E


-one of the most rapidly growing and vigorous Oaks

good brick-red autumn color

-the most bold-textured member of the Red Oak group

-urban tolerant in general, especially to dry sites

-one of the best Oaks for transplant success

-abundant nuts attract wildlife (large birds, deer, and especially squirrels)


-fruit litter with maturity


-shade tree for large lawns, parks, golf courses, corporate centers, or naturalized areas

-valuable timber tree, with its wood prized for beams, boards, railroad ties, and furniture


-bold texture in foliage and when bare

-average density in foliage but open when bare

S   E   L   E   C   T   I   0   N   S

Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-large shade trees (Acer saccharum, Fagus sylvatica, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus shumardii, Zelkova serrata, etc.)

-trees for dry sites (Celtis occidentalis, Gleditsia triacanthos, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Quercus alba, Quercus macrocarpa, etc.)


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