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Southern Red Oak

September 1, 2022

Tree of the Month

Quercus falcata

Southern red oak, sometimes called Spanish oak due to it being native to the southeastern United States, in what started out as some of the Spanish colonies.  A large shade tree with a rounded habit, achieving 80-120’ in height with a spread of 40-80’.  Found in a wide variety of soils from sand to clay from Long Island, NY south to Florida and west to Texas and Missouri.  They grow best in full sun, but can handle some shade.  Very drought tolerant but can be found growing along stream banks and will tolerate some short-term flooding.

The bark is thin and gray when young, becoming darker and platy with deeply furrowed ridges as it matures.  The durable, course-grained wood is utilized for flooring, furniture, and high heat fuel wood.

Buds are reddish, pointed and slightly hairy.  Like most oaks, the terminal buds are arranged in clusters.  Acorns are round and green with white stripes that mature to an orange, brown over a 2-year period.  They are a nutritious food source for deer, small mammals and a variety of song birds.

The leaves are quite unique and have several different shapes found on the same tree.  The base of the leaf is rounded to bell-shaped with a narrow, sickle-shaped apex with pointed bristle tips.  Shiny and medium green on top with a tan to yellowish pubescence underneath and rust colored hairs on the midrib.  Fall color is a nice yellow to orange and also is sometimes attributed to the name of Spanish oak.

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