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Native or Introduced to Illinois: native
Natural Habit in Illinois: rich, upland woods; along river banks; on well drained slopes
Leaf: Leaves are deciduous, alternate, elliptic, 10–25 cm long and 8–15 cm wide, divided less than halfway to midvein into 7–11 shallow wavy lobes with a few irregular bristle-tipped teeth, sinuses usually extending less than 1/2 distance to midrib, glabrous and dull green above, light dull green below with tufts of hairs in vein angles.
Flower: Staminate flowers borne on catkins. Pistillate flowers borne on spikes. Appears with the leaves in April or May.
Fruit: The fruit is an acorns maturing in the second year, about 15–30 cm long, with a broad usually shallow cup, borne singly or in clusters of 2–5.
Twig: The twigs are small, slender, greenish brown to dark brown.
Bark: On young branches the bark is smooth and gray to greenish. On the trunk it breaks into long, narrow, shallow ridges flat and smooth on top. The under bark is light red.
Size/Form/Shape: A medium-sized to large tree that develops a short trunk and round crown when open grown, straight with a clear bole when grown with competition.
Other: Northern red oak is an important source of hardwood
lumber. The wood is close-grained,
heavy, and hard; it machines well and accepts a variety of finishes.
It is used for furniture, veneer, interior finishing, cabinets, paneling,
and flooring as well as for agricultural implements, posts, and railway ties.
Northern red oak provides good cover and nesting sites (including
cavities) for a wide variety of birds and mammals.
Deer, elk, moose, and rabbits commonly browse leaves and young seedlings
and the acorns are eaten by a wide variety of large and small mammals and birds.
The acorns of red oak (and other oak species) were an important food
source for native Americans. To
remove bitter tannins, they were boiled, leached with ashes, soaked for days in
water, or buried over winter. Some
tribes used red oak bark as a medicine for heart troubles and bronchial
infections or as an astringent, disinfectant, and cleanser.
Northern red oak is commonly planted as a landscape tree in eastern North
America and Europe -- used as a shade tree on lawns, parks, campuses, golf
courses, etc, where space is sufficient. It
is fast growing, easy to transplant, tolerant of urban conditions (including dry
and acidic soil and air pollution), the abundant nuts attract wildlife, and the
leaves develop a brick-red fall color. It
has been used in various rehabilitation projects, including revegetation of coal
mine spoils in states of the east central United States (Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania).
County Distribution Map for Illinois:
Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites:
- Illinois Plant Information Network (ILPIN) @ http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/delaware/ilpin/ilpin.html#Background
- List of Woody Plants Native or Naturalized in Illinois @ http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/woody.html
- Tree Species @ http://ostermiller.org/tree/species.html
- Index to Eastern/Central Trees @ http://www.arborday.org/trees/ECtreelist.html
- ISU Forestry Extension Identification of Common Trees of Iowa @ http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pages/tree/
- Key to Leaves of Virginia Trees @ http://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/forsite/key/intro.htm
- List of Native Trees for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois @ http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/treetable.html
- The PLANTS Database @ http://plants.usda.gov/
The information below is from the National Arbor Day Foundation. This information can be viewed in the original (source) form by visiting The National Arbor Day Foundation at http://www.arborday.org.
Sun Exposure: This oak does well in full sun.
Soil Type: The Red Oak grows in acidic, loamy, moist, clay, sandy, well-drained soils and is drought tolerant.
Moisture: Normal moisture with some drought tolerance.
Growth Rate: This tree grows at a fast growth rate.
Hardiness Zones: 3 - 8
This oak can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map.