Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 1207 Quercus acutissima

Common Names: sawtooth oak Family: Fagaceae (beech Family)
Image Gallery

sawtooth oak
A grove of young sawtooth oaks at the Boone County Arboretum in Northern Kentucky.
sawtooth oak
In autumn, sawtooth oak foliage turns yellow-brown and may linger on the trees through the winter.


Sawtooth oak is a deciduous, medium sized oak that gets around 50 ft (15 m) tall. It has a dense and symmetrical crown that is broad and rounded and often about as wide as the tree is tall. The bark is gray to almost black with corky ridges and deep furrows. The leaves look a lot like those of chestnut (Castanea mollissima). They are 4-7 in (10-18 cm) long and quite narrow, just 2-2.5 in (5-7 cm) wide. The leaves are serrated with bristle-tipped teeth along the margins. They emerge bright yellow, become shiny green in summer, and turn dull yellowish to light brown in autumn, often persisting on the tree through most of the winter. The flowers are slender golden-yellow catkins 3-4 in (7-10 cm) long that hang with the new leaves in spring. The oval 1 in (2.5 cm) acorns are very curious looking: The cup that encloses about two-thirds of the nut is covered with long, spreading and reflexed spinelike scales.

The cultivar, ‘Gobbler’ is a seed race that was selected by the US Soil Conservation Service for its cold hardiness, fast growth and large crops of acorns (for wildlife food).


Quercus acutissima is native to eastern Asia in China, Korea and Japan. Sawtooth oak (probably the cultivar ‘Gobbler’) has escaped cultivation and begun propagating itself in the eastern US, and is now known to occur from PA south to LA. It is considered a problem invasive species in SC, TN, MD and VA.


Sawtooth oak tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions. Light: Sawtooth oak needs full sun. Moisture: Ordinary soil moisture is good enough for this adaptable oak. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 9. Propagation: The acorns mature in their second season and germinate readily.

sawtooth oak
The sawtooth oak produces acorns with caps covered in spiny scales.


Sawtooth oak is used as a specimen tree and planted along city streets, around parking lots, and in highway medians. This is a very tolerant and adaptable tree that is often planted in urban situations where air pollution, poor drainage, drought, high temperatures and compacted soils can be a problem for other trees. Sawtooth oak produces abundant acorn crops, beginning as young as 10 years, and has been planted in the US for wildlife (especially wild turkey) food.


Sawtooth oak is very attractive in spring when the newly emerging leaves open with a bright, clear yellow color. The profuse golden catkins are attractive as well. The acorns are a curious sight.


Sawtooth oak produces abundant crops of acorns starting at a young age and this has caused it to become an invasive pest in some areas. The lower trunk tends to flare out with age and can lift sidewalks and pavement if planted too close. There are better choices for North American gardeners.

Steve Christman 1/4/14

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Quercus species profiled on Floridata:

Quercus acutissima

( sawtooth oak )

Quercus alba

( white oak )

Quercus bicolor

( swamp white oak )

Quercus cerris

( Turkish oak, Turkey oak )

Quercus coccinea

( scarlet oak )

Quercus falcata

( southern red oak, Spanish oak )

Quercus geminata

( sand live oak )

Quercus hemisphaerica

( laurel oak, upland laurel oak, damn laurel oak )

Quercus imbricaria

( shingle oak, northern laurel oak )

Quercus laevis

( turkey oak, blackjack oak )

Quercus macrocarpa

( bur oak, mossycup oak )

Quercus michauxii

( swamp chestnut oak, basket oak, cow oak )

Quercus muehlenbergii

( chinkapin oak, yellow chestnut oak, chinquapin oak, yellow oak )

Quercus nigra

( water oak, spotted oak, possum oak )

Quercus nuttallii

( nuttall oak )

Quercus palustris

( pin oak, Spanish oak, swamp oak )

Quercus phellos

( willow oak )

Quercus prinus

( chestnut oak,rock chestnut oak,rock oak,basket oak,tanbark oak )

Quercus robur

( English oak, pedunculate oak, truffle oak )

Quercus rubra

( northern red oak )

Quercus shumardii

( Shumard oak, Shumard red oak )

Quercus velutina

( black oak, quercitron oak, yellowbark oak, yellow oak )

Quercus virginiana

( live oak )

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