Friday, March 31, 2017

The Pin Oak - Quercus palustris

The Pin Oak - Quercus palustris is a large deciduous tree that has been recorded as present in the United States since at least 1770.   It is most commonly planted along highways, parking lots, open spaces as well as in ornamental in landscapes as a specimen tree.  The Pin Oak generally has a single erect trunk,  and thin pin like twigs.  It's lower branches if left natural can often sweep the ground,  the middle branches grow in a more horizontal fashion, while the uppers are horizontal then ascending in the upper crown.  The Pin Oak when mature has an almost symmetrical, conical or cylindrical appearance.

Image Citation: David Stephens,

A rapid grower, Pin Oak is one of the fastest growing Oaks.  This species can grow on average 12-15 feet in a window of just 5-7 years.  In the Spring the foliage is a dark green color, shifting to russet-bronze and red in the Autumn.  The leaves  are alternate, have 5-7 deep narrow primary lobes, each containing a few bristle like teeth/tips.  They are a lustrous dark yellowy green on the surface, changing to a bright scarlet red in the Fall.  The bark is Grayish brown with small ridges, that over time become more furrowed.  The twigs are slender and a lustrous reddish brown color.  The terminal buds are also a reddish brown color ranging from 2-5 mm long, egg shaped, and pointed on the tip.  The fruit is an acorn, with a shallow cup that is 3-6 mm deep which encloses only about 1/4 of the nut.

Image Citation: Richard Webb,

It grows well in zones 4-9 and is one of the most commonly used native Oaks for landscape purposes. This tree tolerates wet soils and prefers moist rich soil, but does have a sensitivity to high PH. The flowers are similar to those on a Red Oak, acorns that are nearly round and brown when ripe.  The Pin Oak is readily available at most nurseries and would make a beautiful sturdy addition to any landscape.  It is found native in lowland woods, river bottomlands, swamp margins, poorly drained uplands, normally found naturally between 500-1000 meters, also widely planted as a street and yard tree above 1000 meters.  Generally found from Massachusetts and New York in the North, Virginia, small portions of North Carolina and Tennessee in the South on West through Kansas and Oklahoma.  

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

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