Monday, March 6, 2017

Southern Red Oak - Quercus falcata

The Southern Red Oak is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of around 100 feet but sometimes much larger.  It grows in an erect, single trunk with initially a narrow crown that spreads with age.  It is most easily recognized by it's U shaped based and extended sickle or strap like terminal lobe.  It is native to the dry, sandy upland woods, pine lands and sandy loam soils from Delaware to Southern Missouri in the North and Northern Florida, Oklahoma and Eastern Texas in the South.  
Image Citation:  Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

The Southern Red Oaks leaves are alternate, simple, mostly ovate, with a rounded base, and 3-6 bristle tipped lobes, the terminal lobe generally being the longest.  The upper surface is lustrous and dark green in color, the lower surface is a grayish or rusty color.  In the fall the leaves turn brown to yellow in color.  The fruit is an acorn with a shallow cup that encloses less then 1/3 of the acorn, the nut is an orange brown in color generally 1-1.5 cm long.  The bark is dark gray in color mixing in with black with age, it is deeply furrowed, ridged, rough and scaly with blocked plates.
Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

The Southern Red Oak is often confused for the Cherrybark Oak and the Turkey Oak, neither have the Southern Red Oaks signature U shaped leaf base.  The leaves of the Post Oak have a similar U shaped base, but the branches and lower leaf surfaces are visably different covered with a stellate grayish pubescence.  The Southern Red Oak is one of the more common Southern Red Oaks and is often found growing wild in pastures, woodlands and along roadsides in the native range.  It is not very tolerant to drought or low rainfall periods, the leaves when drought stressed turn brown in large patches.  It is most commonly found growing in combination with Loblolly, Longleaf and Virginia Pines, Black, Blackjack and Post Oaks, Gums, and Hickories.  

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