Tree Of The Month: The Northern Red Oak

There’s no question that oak trees are a common sight in the St. Louis area and throughout the eastern United States. There are, however, approximately 600 species of oak trees worldwide, with 90 native to the United States.

Considering all the species of oak trees growing in the U.S., homeowners have a wide choice of oaks.

Of those 90 found in the U.S. the red oak, or northern red oak, is widely recognized as an oak species homeowners should consider planting.

What Do Northern Red Oaks Look Like?

The literary description “mighty oak” certainly applies all oaks, including the northern red oak. These trees typically reach at least 50 feet in height at full maturity, often growing to 75 feet tall and in some cases even taller. Northern red oaks have presence, not only due to their height but also because of their extensive spread, which can easily cover 50 to 75 feet. They feature full, often irregular crowns, giving them a great deal of visual interest.

Northern red oaks feature dark green leaves, often grayish white on the underside, with seven to 10 pointed, toothed lobes. A deciduous species, their leaves turn a brown-red in the autumn, when their leaves drop. Northern red oaks – as is the case with most oaks – produce acorns which also fall during autumn. They reach full maturity at about 40 years, and only upon maturity will they produce a large acorn crop.

Where Do Northern Red Oaks Grow Best?

Northern red oaks are sturdy trees and thrive in full sunlight, with low to medium rainfall. They like sandy, fine soil that drains well, which means they do well on gentle slopes or hillsides and higher ground, as opposed to the near-swamp conditions found in river and creek bottoms. They can also handle low rainfalls and near drought conditions well.

Extreme heat and cold don’t generally bother northern red oaks. Ideally, they grow best in less than extended high temperatures, but the hot summers typical of the St. Louis area and throughout Missouri have little negative effect on them. While they prefer fine soils, the clay often found in midwestern soil won’t generally prevent a northern red oak from thriving.

What Are The Main Threats To Northern Red Oaks?

A tough and durable tree, the northern red oak is not threatened by the most common issues in the Midwest, including infestations such as the leaf miner, galls, lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and weevils. While oak wilt and chlorisis are a threat, the northern red oak has little or no problems with diseases such as shoestring root rot, anthracnose, leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew which are often problematic for many tree species native to Missouri and the Midwest.

How Should Northern Red Oaks Be Used In Landscaping?

Due to their size and presence, northern red oaks are ideal for expansive lawns and open spaces. Their spread makes them excellent shade trees, but their width and extensive root systems makes them a species that should not be planted immediately next to a house, building or driveway. It’s also important to remember that northern red oaks take approximately 40 years to reach full maturity, so planting a large, healthy sapling is an excellent idea for homeowners who want a large and impressive – though not yet mature – tree in approximately 20 years.

They also require little maintenance, apart from careful pruning and monitoring for disease.

Is The Northern Red Oak Right For You And Your Home? Consult With The Experts At Hansen’s Tree Service Today!

Our certified arborists are experts at assessing which species of tree best meets a homeowner’s objectives and environment. Their extensive experience with hundreds of tree species can make a crucial difference when it comes to helping you decide which trees are right for you. Chances are that the northern red oak is just one of many trees that will help you beautify and get the most out of your property.

Contact us today and let our insured, experienced professionals take care of all your tree-related needs!


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