Northern Red Oak

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 Quercus rubra subsp. var.  Northern Red Oak
A large Northern Red Oak
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Fagaceae > Quercus rubra var. ,


The Northern Red Oak or Champion Oak, Quercus rubra (syn. Quercus borealis), is an oak in the red oak group (Quercus section Lobatae). It is a native of North America, in the northeastern United States and southeast Canada. It grows from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia, south as far as Georgia and northern Alabama, and west to eastern Kansas. It favors mesic or moderately moist valley and hillside sites with good soil that is slightly acidic. Often simply called "Red Oak", Northern Red Oak is formally so named to distinguish it from Southern Red Oak (Q. falcata), also known as the Spanish Oak.

In forests, the Northern Red Oak grows straight and tall, to 35 m (115 ft), exceptionally to 43 m (141 ft) tall, with a trunk of up to 1 m diameter; open-grown trees do not get so tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 2 m (6.6 ft) diameter.

Northern Red Oak is easy to recognize by its bark, which features bark ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the center. A few other oaks have bark with this kind of appearance in the upper tree, but the Northern Red Oak is the only tree with the striping all the way down the trunk.

The leaves are 12-25 cm (5-10 in) long, with 7-11 lobes; the lobes are bristle-tipped, and less deeply cut than most other oaks of the red oak group (except for Black Oak which can be similar). The acorns are borne in a shallow cup 2 cm (0.8 in) wide, have a flat base and acute apex, 12-20 mm (0.5-0.8 in) long, green, maturing nut-brown about 18 months after pollination. Despite their bitter kernel, they are eaten by deer, squirrels and birds.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Quercus rubra, Linn. Tree, to 80, occasionally 150 ft., with stout spreading branches forming a broad, round-topped, symmetrical head: lvs. divided about half way to the middle by wide sinuses into 7-9 triangular-ovate or ovate-oblong lobes, dull green above, light green and pubescent at first beneath, at length glabrous, 5-9 in. long: fr. short-stalked; acorn ovoid, 1 in. long, embraced only at the base 'by the 3/4-1-in.- broad cup. Nova Scotia to Fla., west to Minn, and Texas.—Beautiful oak of rapid growth growing into a large majestic tree, with usually broad round head, the foliage turning dark red in fall. Hybrids are known with the two following species, with Q. velutina, Q. falcate, Q. Phellos and Q. imbricaria. Var. ambigua, Fern. (Q. ambigua, Michx. f., not HBK. Q. borealis, Michx. f. Q. coccinea var. ambigua, Gray). Cups deeper and somewhat turbinate; acorn usually smaller. The northern form.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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