Northern Red Oak

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
This young red oak tree lives just off of the Farmington Canal Heritage trail behind Pauli Murray College. This tree is both a grower and a show-er, growing over two feet per year and sporting beautiful orangey-red leaves in fall. Its wood is valued for its attractive grain and durability, and its acorns are food for various birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. It is a bit clingy though; it holds onto many of its dead leaves for most of the winter. This does make it a good place for wildlife to seek shelter, and it is also used by many cavity nesting birds. Red oaks tend to be straight and tall with a long round head, but their size varies with geography. Red oaks range across most of the eastern United States and southeast Canada. They can even thrive in the Appalachians thanks to a shallow root system that can handle the rocky terrain, and they are relatively tolerant of pollution, allowing them to survive well in cities too.
Ely and Michelle
Collected Data
Date of tree entry: 
6.68 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.16 m

The bark is brownish-gray. and scaly. There are uninterrupted ridges and reddish streaks.
Twigs & branches
Alternating twigs, first branches well above ground.
Simple leaves that are arranged alternating on the twig. They have 7-11 lobes with bristle tips and u-shaped sinuses.
Reproductive Structures
The Northern Red Oak tree is monoecious, producing both female and male flowers on the same branch. The male flowers are long yellow-green-like in appearance and form clusters called catkins. They grow to about 2 to 4 inches in height and occur in groups of three. They consist of an abundance of stamens and a calyx that are partially hidden by hairy bractlets (modified leaf or leaflike part). Female flowers have a reddish-green-like appearance and are small, slender spikes. They may have 3 to 6 carpels, fused sepals, and no petals. These contain an ovary. and underneath have several bractlets. The red oak typically blooms during mid-spring to late-spring. After blooming, fertile female flowers are replaced by acorns which take 2 years to develop.
While there are none at the moment, the female flowers mature to an egg-shaped acorn, around 5/8 to 1-1/8 inches long, about 1/4 enclosed in a broad reddish-brown cup-shaped cap. Blunt tightly overlapping scales that often have dark margins can also be seen.
  • Mid Spring
Natural range of distribution: 
Red oaks are native to North America, ranging from the eastern edges of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, to the east coast and southeastern Canada through the great lakes and Nova Scotia. They range as far south as Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. They prefer somewhat acidic, moist, and well-drained soils, but can also tolerate alkaline soil, clay soil, and dry sites.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The Northern Red Oak (sometimes called champion oak) is a large native decidious tree growing 60 to 90 feet high and up to 2 & 1/2 feet in diameter with a rounded crown. It was first introduced to small areas in Western Europe, where it can frequently be seen cultivated in gardens and parks. The largest known Red Oak in Ohio has a height of 92 feet, crown spread of 115 feet and a circumference of 335 inches. Northern Red Oak is also the state tree of New Jersey. Ornamental use includes the placing and growing of red oaks in parks and large gardens as a specimen tree. As seen here, it can also be used as a lawn tree. It is also of high importance in the timber production in North America. Quality red oak is of high value as lumber and veneer, and defective logs are used as firewood.

The Northern Red Oak is a deciduous tree with a long lifespan from around 200 to 400 years. Its leaves change color from green to brown in the fall to brown and may turn a brilliant red color before the leaves fall off.
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