Red Oak Tree

As one of the most prominent trees in the United States, you will find the red oak tree growing along streets and in yards across the country. That’s because a red oak tree can thrive in just about any soil, it provides abundant shade, and has intensely bright red fall colors. This tree is also known as a Northern Red Oak Tree, even though it does grow in the southern United States as well. The northern is often dropped from the name to differentiate it from  a southern red oak tree, also called a Spanish oak.

The red oak tree can withstand pollutants so it’s a good tree for both the city and the country. It is fast growing and can grow up to two feet every year for ten years. It is so hardy it grows well in zones 3 through 8. It is the predominant tree in many old residential neighborhoods, and you will often see its acorns on lawns and streets. The acorns the tree produces are popular with birds and animals, including squirrels, turkeys, blue jays, deer, raccoons, and bears.

Two diseases that affect the red oak tree are oak wilt and oak decline. Oak wilt is caused by a fungus and in the Eastern U.S. it kills thousands of red oak trees whether they be in forests or cities. The oak wilt fungus can be carried from tree to tree by insects or connect through root systems. Symptoms of oak wilt include wilting, discoloration and leaf loss. A healthy tree can die with weeks and sometimes even days after being infected with oak wilt. Oak decline is a much slower tree disease that can take up to five years to kill a tree. It is not just one disease but really a combination of several different stresses on a tree such as drought, fungi, boring insects or late frosts in the spring.

The biggest pest for a red oak tree is the red oak borer, but it does not kill the tree. It is the borer’s larvae that first damages the tree by burrowing into crevices in the bark.  When they reach adult size, the borer can be one and a half inches long and they bore more deeply into the center of the tree.  It is usually this damage combined with other stresses that kills the tree.

If you are looking for a large, hardy tree shade in the backyard, you couldn’t make a better choice than a red oak. In fact, the National Arbor Day Foundation has made the oak tree the American national tree. There are oak trees of all species growing in just about every state. Oaks are the state tree of New Jersey, Maryland. Iowa, Illinois, Georgia, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

If you don’t want to buy a red oak tree, you can collect acorns in the fall and plant them the next spring. You should look for instructions on exactly how to store them as they will need to be kept cold over the winter. This could be a great way to get kids interested in trees, by having them search for acorns in the fall and help plant them in the spring. In time you could be watching a tree grow into a magnificent mature red oak tree.