91 Quercus palustrisCommon Names: pin oak, Spanish oak, swamp oak Family: Fagaceae (beech Family)
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.
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.
CultureLight: 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.
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