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Red Oak - Tuesday's tree

Red Oak in summer
Red Oak in summer
Bobbi Dawn Rightmyer, unless otherwise noted

The Red Oak tree, or Quercus rubra, has lobed leaves and is one of the most widely distributed oaks in North America. Here in the Bluegrass Region, Red oaks are a hardy tree with beautiful red or brown fall color. It has an attractive branching pattern and beautiful furrowed bark during winter months.

Red Oaks
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All oaks prefer full sun and well-drained sandy loam. This species will survive when exposed to air pollution so it is a great tree to plant near the road. Most oaks are notorious for been slow growing, but oak is also the strongest wood in America. The Red Oak is different; it is one of the fast growing oaks and can reach 60-75 feet tall and just as wide.

The bark of Red Oaks is reddish brown when young and darkens when mature. It also is furrowed and often laced with broad shiny strips. The leaves are teeth-lobed and can grow to the size of a man’s hand. Naturally, because of its name, Red Oak, it produces beautiful fall foliage. Female flowers are hard to see and male catkins hang down like a pendulum. The marble size acorns are covered with a shallow cap. Red oak has a fibrous root system instead of a tap root so it is easier to transplant than other oaks. These trees are winter Hardy to zone three.

*Trivia: The national champion red oak (134 feet) is in North Carolina in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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