Red Oak Tree: Leaves (Northern vs Texas vs White Oak vs Southern vs Cali)

A full-grown Red Oak tree image in an oval frame on green background.

Red oak tree leaves are a lovely autumn staple. They seem to make all the other oranges, yellows, and mahogany colored changes come alive, with their bright, boisterous splash of blazing red and orange in a deciduous forest.

However, there are different types which of Red Oak, including the Northern Red Oak, Texas, White, Southern, and more.

But, the trick to identifying a red oak tree is simply looking at it’s leaves and bark. Their leaves are what mainly differentiates them from other oaks.

This guide explains all the pros and cons of each variety of Red Oak.


Red Oak Tree

(Quercus rubra)

Red Oak tree image in an oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Fagaceae
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Fagales
  • Lifespan: 300-500 years
  • Length: 60-75 feet
  • Width: 60 feet
  • Plant habit or Use: Medium Tree
  • Flower Color: Reddish Brown
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Plant Character: Deciduous
  • Heat Tolerance: High
  • Water Requirements: Low
  • Soil Requirements: Alkaline adaptable
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8
  • Exposure: Sun

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: Velela14

The red oak tree is among the many types of oak trees that have been reported to be critically endangered.  It could be one of the 8 endangered tree species helping fight climate change for all we know. It has wooden shrubs and bristle-like leaves. It also has bitter seeds, maturing in two growing seasons, and shells that are hairy.

It has one of the most beautiful foliage in the world, outliving the people that grow it. You do not need a lot of effort to plant it because it is an easy process. You can grow it in any environment because it is not choosy, but it thrives more in soils that are slightly acidic.

The word “red” in its name originates from its leaf veins, which are bright red in color.

Photo of the ground showing fallen leaves and root of a red oak tree.

(Image: ASSY8)

While many people grow it for many reasons, most do it for ornamental purposes.

Red Oak Tree Facts

There are several facts that make the Red Oak a great tree.

  • It is named after its beautiful fall colors.
  • It has red wood.
  • It is porous.
  • The largest oak tree in the country is in Ohio. The circumference of its trunk is 337 inches and it has a height of 92 feet. Its crown spread is 103 feet.
  • Its firewood burns faster than that of white oak.
  • The oldest living red oak tree is the Pechanga Great Oak Tree in California. It is estimated to be over 1500 years old. It has a circumference of 20 feet and its height is almost 100 feet.
  • The northern red oak is the state tree of New Jersey.
  • It resists salt during winter.
  • It is the most important timber tree in the world.
  • It is easy to stain.
  • Its bark has zebra stripes.
  • Its acorns are bitter.
  • It is easy to transplant.
  • There is no black oak tree. It is actually red.
  • It doesn’t produce acorns until it reaches 20 years of age.1
  • It is monoecious.

Red Oak Tree Leaves: How To Identify a Red Oak Tree Leaf

The leaves have a narrow end at the base but are obovate. They have between 9 and 11 lobes, with bristle tips. The leaves measure between 5 and 10 inches (13-25 centimeters).

They are dark green and their upper side has a glossy shine.

Photo of the red, orange and green leaves of oak tree.

(Image: aszak9)

There are others with underside fine hairs with a color that looks light yellowish green. In fall, the leaves transform the landscape with beautiful red colors.

The leaves grow on short petioles in a simple and alternate arrangement. Some have veins and stems that have a rich red color in midsummer.

Different oak trees have different leaf shapes. The shapes are determined by the species of the oak.2

For example, red oaks have bases that contain angular rounded leaves but those of the white oak are rounded at the bottom of the sinus. Red oak leaves have spines but white oak leaves do not.

Red Oak Tree Growth Rate

The growth rate of red oak is 2 feet per year on average.

Read More About: How to Tell How Old a Tree Is (Trick Works Every Time on All Tree Types)

Red Oak Tree Root System

If you are thinking of planting a red oak tree or getting involved in oak tree planting forestry, then its growth rate is not the only thing that you must know. You must also understand its root system.

When they are beginning to establish, they develop heart root systems. These look like the artery and vein systems of the human heart.

A number of semi-deep roots elongate into the soil and other smaller roots extend off the main ones. This creates a branching root system.

After it has established itself, the root system can modify into different shapes, depending on how it gathers oxygen, water, and nutrients.

Red Oak Tree Bark

You can distinguish a red oak tree using its bark, which is reddish-brown to dark gray in color.

Close-up photo of the rough and rugged bark of a red oak tree.

(Image: Little Visuals10)

When it is maturing, its bark develops ridges that are flat-topped. They also develop deep furrows.

An important distinctive feature is that the bark has shiny stripes appearing at the center of the ridges.

Red Oak Tree Identification

So how can you identify a red oak tree? It is easy, look at the leaves.

It is important to first understand that the two main subgroups of oak trees are the red and white oaks. They are usually very confusing to most people and many cannot differentiate between them.

Red oak tree identification chart showing red oak leaves, flowers, tree, acorns and bark in oval frames.

You can primarily distinguish them using the single-leaf characteristic.

The red oak has pointed lobes with small bristles at the tip of each. The white oak has rounded lobes but without any bristles.

One of the most common types of red oak is the northern red oak tree. Its bark is smooth and gray when it is young, but when it grows older, it develops flat-topped long furrows.


Red Oak Tree Pros and Cons of Planting

Deciding on what tree to plant is difficult and you must know its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of the Red Oak Tree

  • It grows fast.
  • It is one of the best shade trees in the world.
  • It is hardy and beautiful.
  • Its wood is very useful.
  • It absorbs atmospheric carbon and other pollutants.
  • It is easy to transplant.

Cons of the Red Oak Tree

  • It is not only vulnerable to fungal disease, but it also spreads it.
  • It is extremely vulnerable to chlorosis. This is a plant condition that is characterized by iron deficiency and makes the leaves turn yellow while their veins remain green.
  • It is not resistant to fire.
  • It is very vulnerable to attack by insects.
  • It is messy because when the acorns drop during autumn or winter, they can dent your parked car. In spring, it sheds thousands of catkins that contain flowers. In autumn, it sheds leaves.
  • You cannot plant it in soil with poor drainage. You can also not overwater it because you will kill it. You can only irrigate it when it is young and growing in regions that it occurs naturally.

Young Red Oak Tree

Most people that want to grow red oaks are afraid because they think that it is difficult to maintain a young red oak. The good news is that it is very easy to maintain them.

Young red oak trees are easy to care for. They are low-maintenance because they tolerate most soils as long as it is not well-draining.7 If they are to grow well, they need acidic to neutral and moist soil.

The soil must not be above 7.5 pH because then, the leaves will begin to turn yellow due to iron deficiency. It is a difficult problem to solve because the young oak tree will begin to experience a decline in health.

If your soil is alkaline, then consider other species like the English oak or the bur oak. Young trees must experience full sun and have plenty of space if they are to grow into large landscaping trees.

You must also water your young oak trees regularly during the first season to enable it to establish its roots. When they become older, they won’t need supplemental irrigation unless there is drought.

Don’t fertilize your young oak trees, but you can do an all-purpose fertilizing if the growth seems slow in subsequent springs. Generally, young oak trees do not like fertilizer.

Prune your young oak tree regularly to remove diseased or dead limbs. There are usually branches that grow vertically and rub against each other that you must also remove.

Red Oak Tree Growth Rate Chart

The table outlines the growth stages and size of the Red Oak tree.

Red Oak tree growth chart showing full grown Red Oak on a line graph with Red Oak age on the x-axis and Red Oak tree height on the y-axis.

 Red Oak TreeAgeHeight
First year after planting5-8 Years8 feet
After 2 years planting1012 feet
After 5 years1320 feet
After 10 Years1835-40 feet
After 20 Years2840-50 feet
After 25 Years3350-55 feet
After 40 years4855-65 feet

Red Oak Uses

Red oak has many uses;

You can use it to make railway ties, millwork, furniture, and flooring. You can also use it to make barrels that store dry goods, veneer, plywood, fence posts, and tool handles. Its strong, heavy, and hardwood makes it suitable for these projects and many more.

It is also an important source of food for wild animals such as deer. Its acorns are crucial for bears when they begin to fatten before hibernation. Birds like quails, turkeys, ducks, and songbirds, and many others also rely on it.

Photo of a squirrel eating acorn from an oak tree.

(Image: Sunny61111)

Squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons, among much other wildlife, rely on them for meals.

Red Oak Benefits

Like all trees, the benefits that red oaks have are numerous. That is why you must always take part in tree-planting initiatives or look for any tree-planting organizations that support your goals.

You don’t have to plant red oaks only; there are many other weird trees that you can plant, depending on what you want.

But, some of the benefits of red oaks include:

  • It is a source of fuel for cooking and heating.
  • It is a source of shade during summer.
  • It can make railway tiles, agricultural implements, and furniture, among many other things.
  • It is extremely attractive, hence a source of aesthetic value.
  • It has medicinal value because scientists have proven that it can cure heart diseases, bronchial infections, and many others.
  • Its acorns serve as food for raccoons and squirrels, among other wildlife.
  • It serves woodworkers well because of its hard wood.
  • Mammals use it as a nesting place.

The benefits of having this tree are unimaginable. Red oak trees can be one of your choices if you are interested in planting trees carbon offset.

Finding the best carbon offset providers can be a good option too. However, starting small is perfectly acceptable. Even just one tree in your backyard can have a significant impact.

Red Oak Tree for Sale

Red oak trees for sale are widely available in nurseries near you. You can also buy them in different reliable online channels. There are even stores that sell them.

White Oak vs. Red Oak Tree Leaves

There are several differences between white and red oak trees leave, and the trees themselves.

Red oak tree leaves are pointed at the end, They feature the long finger shapes of other similar oak trees, but unlike the rounded tips of the white oak, the red oak tree tips are pointed.

Likewise, red oak tree leaves turn a deep red color during the right fall conditions, while white oaks will typically be deep to light yellow.

Another difference is the type of wood that they produce. Red oak produces one of the most widely used hardwoods, but there are experts that argue that white oak produces more durable hardwood.1

Another one is the projects that they create. Red oak hardwood is used to make most domestic projects because it can stain without blotching and it has easy finishing. It is also unique because it is easy to customize.

Red oak leaf and white oak leaf comparison side by side on the forest floor with rounded white oak tree leaf and pointed red oak tree leaf.

Red Oak tree leaf on the left compared to a White Oak tree leaf on the right.

However, white oak has better hardness and workability that strike an important balance. That is why many woodworkers prefer it to its counterpart.

Also, unlike red oak, white oak does not dent easily and is suitable for projects that require water contact. When red oak gets into contact with water, it develops a black mark which is very ugly.

The white oak has obstructed pores but its counterpart doesn’t.

The final difference is that the red oak rots at a faster rate than the white one.

Types of Red Oak Trees

  • Southern Red Oak
  • Sessile Oak
  • Northern red Oak
  • Chinquapin Oak
  • Pin Oak
  • Arizona White Oak
  • Black Oak
  • Southern Live Oak
  • Water Oak
  • Willock Oak
  • Scarlet Oak
  • Blackjack Oak
  • English Oak
  • Valley Oak
  • Japanese Evergreen Oak
  • Oregon Oak
  • Bur Oak

Northern Red Oak Tree

People that love this tree say that it is one of the stateliest, cleanest, and most handsome trees in the United States and Canada. It is generally accepted that the northern red oak tree is a national treasure. Its value centers on its urban settings and hardiness.4

It is medium-large in size and displays extremely vibrant color during fall.

It also has great value for wildlife because it provides food for them. It is the status tree for New Jersey.

Characteristics of the Northern Red Oak Tree

  • It displays brilliant colors in fall.
  • It tolerates compacted soil and pollution.
  • It grows fast.
  • It offers great shade.
  • It works very well as a street tree.

Northern Red Oak Seeds (Acorns)

An acorn is the fruit of a northern oak tree. It is formed along the branches.

When you want to get the seed, harvest the fruit during fall after the acorn has become tan or brown. You can do this after they fall on the ground.

Red oak tree seed identification chart showing Southern red oak, sessile oak, english oak, chinquapin oak and pin oak acorns in oval frames.

Remove the cup from the acorn before storing it. You may find weevils in the acorns, and this may affect its ability to germinate.

If you want to know that they have weevils, place them in water. If they float, it shows that they have weevils and you should discard them because they won’t germinate. Only save the ones that sink.

You can store them for at least 1 year in the refrigerator in air-tight containers.

The northern oak tree seed has physiological dormancy. This means that it needs a period of moist chilling. Only this will satisfy its dormancy.

The period in which it chills is called stratification. You should stratify it for at least 60 days to satisfy the dormancy.

After that, you can sow it in a nursery container so that it can produce a seedling. You can also sow it in a plastic container if you want to observe the germination.

Northern Red Oak Tree Pros and Cons

See the list below of Northern Red Oak Tree’s pros and cons.


  • It has a brilliant color in the fall. Leaves become russet-red to bright red in color.
  • It is one of the easiest trees to transplant.
  • It has a dense crown that offers great shade.
  • It tolerates compacted soil and pollution.


  • Its lateral tap root system may become a problem because it grows up to 18 inches deep in the soil looking for moisture and nutrients. This may pose a danger if it is near a building, especially one that is structurally poor.

Northern Red Oak Tree for Sale

You can find red oak trees for sale at your nearest nursery. There are also many sites that sell them online.

Southern Red Oak Tree

The southern red oak tree has a straight trunk and is tall. The trunks develop branches that spread out, giving it a rounded-top look. It can grow up to between 70 and 80 feet.

The leaves can grow to between 5 and 9 inches long. Their upper surface is dark green but their undersides are hairy and brown. The southern oak tree leaves also have bristle-tipped lobes.

Red oak tree leaf identification chart showing Southern live oak, chinquapin oak, scarlett oak, ur oak and pin oak leaves in oval frames.

Its lower lobes are narrow and long. This distinguishes it from the other red oak trees. In the midvein, the leaves have a sinuous curve.

Leaves also turn reddish in color and droop during fall. Its flowers are unisexual and produced in spring. Acorns may be single or in pairs.

Its range extends from New York in Long Island southwards to New Jersey. It can also be found in northern Florida across the Gulf States through to Brazos in Texas. Other areas that you can find it in include Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and many others.

Southern Red Oak Interesting Facts

  • It is one of the trees that you can plant to offset your carbon footprint.
  • They are deciduous.
  • They are native to the eastern part of the United States.
  • They can live up to 275 years.
  • It is also called Spanish Oak because it is native to some areas of Spain where Spanish colonies existed.
  • The largest southern oak tree in the country is in Virginia, Sussex County. Its circumference is 321 inches and its height is 92 feet.

Southern Red Oak Tree Bark

Southern red oak tree barks are dark brownish-black.5 They have deep grooves. The barks can also have shaped plates and be deep gray in color.

Southern Red Oak Tree Lifespan

The lifespan of the southern red oak tree is 275 years.

Southern Red Oak Spread

It can spread 50-60 feet. This spread makes it have a broad and open-rounded form.

Southern Red Oak Tree Growth Rate

The growth rate of the southern red oak tree is 2 feet per year.

Southern Red Oak for Sale

You can find southern red oak trees for sale at your nearest nursery. There are stores that sell them as well. You may also get them online on reliable sites.

Texas Red Oak Tree

There are never too many trees in the world. If you want to plant others, you cannot go wrong with the Texas red oak.

  • It is medium-sized and can grow up to 35 feet tall. One or more of its trunks can be as long as 10 inches but can reach a height of 70 feet.5
  • It is mainly found in dry ridges and limestone hills. You can also spot it in Central Texas west to the Edwards Plateau, which is relatively fertile.
  • The leaves are alternate and simple, average between 3 and 5 inches long. They can be between 2.5 and 3 inches wide.
  • Their lobes are bristle-tipped. They also have slender petioles that are about 1 inch long. They are shiny and dark green, with deep shades that turn red during fall.
  • The Texas red oak bears flowers separately during spring on the same tree. The male catkins are yellowish-green in color and between 1.5 and 3.5 inches long. The female flowers are solitary and reddish, with an average length of 0.5 inches.
  • Acorns require at least 2 years to mature. In many cases, they are reddish-brown, short-stalked, and pubescent. They measure between 0.25 and 0.75 inches.
  • The bark is dark gray to black in color. They are smooth when the red oak tree is young, but become rough with deep ridges and fissures as they age.
  • Texas red oak trees have hardwood that is mainly used for posts and as fuel. They also make the landscape of Central Texas extremely beautiful.

Read More About: How Many Trees Are in the World? By Country, Type, Year (Updated 2022)

When To Plant Red Oak Trees in Texas?

The best time to plant Texas red oak trees is during fall or spring. This is because they will have time to settle before dry, hot weather arrives.

Photo of a painting that features a red oak tree with red leaves on its base.

(Image: Peggychoucair13)

You must carefully select a planting space that will not interfere with any power lines or buildings. As a general rule, you must allow at least 6 meters (20 feet) of space in each direction. You must expose it to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

You can also consider places with fungi because it provides the roots with minerals and moisture.

Before planting, you should dig large amounts of compost and manure. It is especially relevant if you live in urban areas where the soil may be depleted.

Red Oak Tree Texas Care

Caring for these trees is minimal. However, a new tree requires regular moisture, especially if the weather is dry and hot. If there is no rain, then water it at least once a week.3

Trees that are established are tolerant to drought.

You should use commercial fungicides to treat red oak trees. Always watch for aphids, but they are easy to remove by spraying the foliage with a strong stream of water.

Texas Red Oak Tree for Sale

You can find Texas red oak trees for sale at your nearest nursery. You can also easily find them online and in specific stores that sell them.

Shumard Red Oak Tree Texas

Shumard red oak is an upright tree that can grow up to 120 feet. It is native to Texas and is found in moist woods and bottomland soils. It grows really fast, with spreading branches.

The leaves are usually green but turn scarlet during fall.

It prefers spoils that are well-drained and moist but can also adapt to those with high pH and dry limestone.

Texas Red Oak vs. Shumard Oak

One of the differences between the Texas red oak and the Shumard red oak is their respective native habitats. The Texas red oak is native to the west of Texas while the Shumard red oak is native to the east.

Another difference is that Texas red oak has leaves that are small and lacy, with acorns that are tiny. Shumard red oak is large and tall, with large acorns.

However, they are closely related, and you can easily confuse the two.

Shumard Red Oak Tree for Sale

You can find Shumard oak trees for sale in your nearest nursery. You can also find them online and in specified stores that sell them.

Red Oak Tree California

There are red oak trees that do well in California. They are mainly found in central California.

Photo of several tall red oak trees in the woods.

(Image: 177139112)

Before deciding to grow them, make sure you have the right variety and you can care for them properly because there is some spread red oak tree for species that cannot withstand this weather.

Frequently Asked Questions About Red Oak Tree

How Fast Does a Red Oak Tree Grow?

It grows more than two feet each year for 10 years.


What Does a Red Oak Tree Look Like?

It has a dark gray bark which is deeply rigged. It also has distinctive acorns and green leaves. The tips are toothed and lobes are pointed.6


Where Do Red Oak Trees Grow?

They majorly grow in the central and eastern parts of the United States. They can also be found in south-central Canada.


What Is the Texas Red Oak Tree Growth Rate? (What Is the Texas Red Oak Growth Rate?)

2.5 feet per year.


Do Red Oak Trees Have Acorns?

Yes, Red Oaks produce acorns.


Where Can I Find Mature Red Oak Trees for Sale?

You can find them at your nearest nursery. There are also several reliable online channels that sell them.


How Much Does a Red Oak Tree Cost?

Depending on the size of the tree, a red oak sapling can cost from $40-$100.


What Is the Northern Red Oak Tree Growth Rate?

The growth rate of the Red Oak is approximately 2-3 feet per year.


How Long Do Northern Red Oak Trees Live?

Red oak trees can live for approximately 500 years.


What Is Red Oak Tree Lifespan?

They usually live up to 300 years, but they can live up to 500 years.


Where Can I Find Red Oak Trees for Sale Near Me?

You can get a red oak tree at your nearest nursery. There are also forestry stations and some stores that sell them.


What Is the Characteristic of Red Oak Tree Texas?

In autumn, the foliage becomes orange. They also develop shades of vivid red.


Where Can You Find Oak Trees in the United States?

They can be found almost everywhere. Their natural habitats range from Maine in the north to Minnesota and from Texas in the south to Georgia.


Do Oak Trees Grow in All the 50 States?

Yes, Oak trees are in every state.


What Is Red Oak Tree Scientific Name?

The red oak tree’s scientific name is “Quercus rubra”.



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4Missouri Department of Conservation. (2022). Northern Red Oak. Missouri Department of Conservation. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from   <>

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8Photo by ASSY. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from   <>

9Photo by aszak. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from <>

10Photo by Little Visuals. Resized and changed format. Pexels. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from   <>

11Photo by Sunny611. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from   <>

12Photo by 1771391. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from   <>

13Photo by Peggychoucair. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from   <>

14Species Information Image: Quercus rubra @ Tortworth Court Photo by Velela. (2005, November 1) / Public domain. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 16, 2024, from   <>