Monday, September 14, 2015
Meet The "Northern Red Oak" - Quercus rubra
The Northern Red Oak (Querus Rubra) is a medium to large deciduous tree. It is also called Common Red Oak, Eastern Red Oak, Mountain Red Oak, Grey Oak or just Red Oak. It is the Northernmost growing of all the Oaks in the East, with it's native range extending to Nova Scotia. It grows from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, through Ontario, in Canada downward into Minnesota and South to Eastern Nebraska and Oklahoma; Arkansas, continuing to dip down into Alabama, Northern parts of Mississippi and Louisiana and continuing East to Coastal Georgia and North Carolina. It is an easily transplanted, low maitenance shade tree with good form and dense foliage. It's hardwood lumber is very important to lumber production in North America, it is also used for firewood. The Northern Red Oak is the State Tree of New Jersey.
Image Citation: Becca MacDonald, Sault College, Bugwood.org
Northern Red Oak is monoecious, it's staminate flowers are borne in catkins that develop from leaf axils of the previous year and emerge around the same time as the new leaves in April/May. The pistillate flowers are solitary or occur in two+ flowered spikes that develop in the axils of the this year's leaves. The fruit is an acorn or nut that occurs singly or in clusters of from two to five, is partially enclosed by a scaly cup. Northern Red Oak acorns are brown when mature and ripen from late August to late October, depending on geographic location. The acorns of the Northern Red Oak are favorited by many type of wildlife including the voles, mice, squirrel, deer, black bears, and even some birds. The bright Red fall leaf coloring of the Northern Red Oak is one reason it is added to many planned landscapes as a shade tree. In the growing season the leaves are a crisp green. It features alternating leaves that are 4–8" long and have 7–11 waxy, spine-tipped lobes each.
Image Citation (Catkins): DAVID LEE, Bugwood.org & (Full Tree) Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulurist, Bugwood.org
The Northern Red Oak is recommended for zones 3-8 and is readily available at most nurseries during the planting season. The Northern Red Oak grows to a height of 60–75' with a crown spread of around 45' at maturity. Be sure when planting to plan ahead for the potential size at full maturity - always remembering to plant the right tree in the right place!