Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 91 Quercus palustris

Common Names: pin oak, Spanish oak, swamp oak Family: Fagaceae (beech Family)
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pin oak
The pin oak selection 'Sovereign' boasts a handsome symmetrical form. It is typical of the species that dead leaves persist on the tree throughout winter.


A member of the red oak group (see discussion under Quercus rubra), pin oak (Q. palustris) normally grows 70-80 ft (21-24 m) tall with a trunk 2-3 ft (60-100 cm) in diameter. The crown is pyramidal and profusely branched. The trunk is tall and straight, often with persistent dead branches, and covered with a grayish brown, rather smooth bark. Lower branches usually droop. The leaves are a typical oak shape, with 5-7 bristle-tipped lobes separated by deep sinuses. Pin oak bears acorns that are brown with mahogany-red streaks. The half-inch (1.25-cm) acorns are almost round, with a shallow saucer of a cup that encloses only the base of the nut. They are bitter to the taste, and take two years to mature.

Pin oak leaves


Quercus palustris grows in the mid-Atlantic and central states from Connecticut, New York and northern Virginia, west to Iowa and Nebraska. Pin oak inhabits moist bottomland soils, often in floodplains. It tolerates heavy-textured clay soils and brief periods of inundation. Pin oak also grows on flat sites in uplands on moist, but well drained soils.


Light: Pin oak grows best in full sun. Moisture: This oak is tolerant of saturated and heavy soils. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 7. Propagation: Acorns should be planted in fall for spring germination.
yard tree
This pin oak, planted as a shade tree in the yard where Jack grew up in Northern Kentucky survived decades of scorching hot summers (without irrigation), freezing winters and complete neglect. The tree grew slowly but always looked great - amazing tree!


Pin oak is used as a shade tree, a street tree, and for fall foliage. It is a fast growing tree, usually reaching maturity in 15-20 years and rarely living more than 150 to 200 years. The wood is not as strong as that of the red oak (Q. rubra), but is used locally for fence posts and general construction. Particularly large acorn (mast) crops are produced every 2-4 years or so and can be very valuable food for wildlife, especially ducks, but also for deer, squirrels, turkeys and bears.


Pin oak was formerly used for shingles and clapboards. Now it is widely used as an ornamental, and especially as a street tree, both in America and in Europe. The foliage turns rusty red-brown in the fall and persists well into the winter.

Steve Christman 5/10/97; updated 6/27/07, 7/12/07

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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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