Northern red oak (Quercus rubra)

northern red oak leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Northern red oak.



Height 55' to 80' with diameters ranging from 24" to 36"; tall and straight with clear trunk and narrow crown.


On young stems, smooth, dark gray to dark brown; on older trees, thick and brown, broken by shallow fissures into regular, flat, smooth-surfaced vertical plates.


Simple, alternate on stem, length 5" to 9"; divided into seven to nine lobes, each extending halfway to the midrib; each lobe somewhat coarsely toothed, bristle tipped, firm; dull green above, paler below, often turning a brilliant red in fall. Buds thick and pointed at top.

Fruit (seed)

Large, bitter acorn, maturing the second year; length 3/4" to nearly 2"; blunt topped, flat at base with base enclosed in a very shallow, dark brown cup. Acorns are an important winter food source for squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, and several songbirds.


Grows throughout the state, but is most common and of best quality in the rich soil of southern, central, and southeastern Minnesota; moderately shade tolerant, fast growing. Very susceptible to oak wilt fungus.

Wood uses

Light, reddish-brown, hard, strong, and coarse; used for construction and finish of houses, furniture, and fuel; grows more rapidly than most oaks, so production is widely encouraged in the southern parts of the state for both timber and shade.

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