How to Grow and Care for Red Oak Trees Quercus rubra
King of the eastern North American forests, the northern red oak, Quercus rubra, can be found in woodlands all the way from Quebec to Georgia.
Growing up to 75 feet tall and just as wide, this prodigious acorn producer is an important player in the forest food web, feeding everything from weevils and mice to bears.
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Belonging to the Fagaceae family, which also includes chestnuts and beeches, red oak has many cousins you may be familiar with, including white (Q. alba), scarlet (Q. coccinea), and pin oak (Q. palustris).
Like all species in the Quercus genus, Q. rubra produces yellow male catkins, which are long and dangly. The small, inconspicuous female flowers are found on the same tree.
Hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8, Q. rubra is one of the most rugged of the oaks. It’s tolerant of a variety of soil types, has relatively low water needs, and is largely pest and disease free.
Read on for more specifics about growing the mighty red oak. Here’s what I’ll cover:
What Are Red Oaks?
“Red oak” refers primarily to two different species, as well as being the common name for the Erythrobalanus group – one of the two major groups that Quercus species are divided into.
Species in the Erythrobalanus group sport bristles or points at the ends of their leaf lobes and produce acorns which mature over the course of two years.
The northern red oak, Q. rubra, can be distinguished from the other species in the red oak group by its sharply pointed leaves and lobes that aren’t too deeply divided. In the fall, its leaves turn a beautiful deep reddish-bronze color.
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