Common Name: northern red oak, red oak

Scientific Name: 
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Species: Q. rubra

Hardiness Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 50 to 75 ft
Width: 40 to 65 ft

Common characteristics:

The red oak is one of the faster growing oaks. They grow tall and straight with a clear trunk and narrow crown. The bark on young stems is smooth, dark gray to dark brown. On older trees, the bark is thick and brown, with shallow fissures on smooth-surfaced vertical plates. Leaves are simple and grow alternately on the stem often 5" to 9" in length. They are divided into seven to nine lobes, each extending halfway to the midrib. Each lobe is somewhat coarsely toothed and bristle tipped. They are dull green above and paler green below, often turning a brilliant red in fall. Fruits are large, bitter acorn, maturing the second year. The acorn length is 3/4" to nearly 2". They are blunt topped, and flat at the base with the base being enclosed in a very shallow, dark brown cup. 

Where it grows:

Prefers to be grown in acidic, moist, well-drained soils. It does best in sandy, loam soils. Red oak will tolerate alkaline, dry, and clay soils. 

How it’s used:

The red oak makes a fantastic shade tree that is well suited for lawns, parks, and natural areas. Avoid planting this tree if you live in an area that has oak wilt outbreaks as this tree is highly susceptible. 

Ecosystem services:

Acorns are an important winter food source for squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, and several songbirds.

Where it is native to:

Native to Minnesota and well suited for the area. The native range extends throughout the eastern United States. 


Generally, it is a long-lived and durable tree. However, this tree is highly susceptible to oak wilt. Do not prune this species if the timing falls within oak wilt season (especially April-June). It is not recommended to plant this species in an area of high oak wilt concentration. 


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Morton Arboretum



northern red oak form
northern red oak bark
northern red oak foliage
northern red oak bud
northern red oak fruit