Types of Oak Trees: Varieties and Kinds

Types of Oak
Oaks are magnificent trees that are admired for their shade-offering characteristics. During the summer season having an oak tree in your backyard or garden can improve the quality of your outdoor life.


Its wide-spreading branches will not only give you relief from the heat of summer. But it will also give you a pleasant sight to look at. Below we have discussed the different types of oak trees.


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How Can You Identify An Oak Tree?

Sometimes people fail to recognize an oak tree they already have in their garden. In such a case, you should look out for the following parts of the oak trees: The shape of the leaf, flowers, and acorns.


When you notice the leaves of an oak tree it should be deciduous and have several lobes. The number of lobes and shapes might keep changing based on the kind of oak trees you have.


You can also notice the male flower of the oak tree varieties. They change into swinging catkins during the spring. Whereas the female flowers are small in size and grow at the end of the season.


The tree also bears beautiful nut-like fruits that are acorns. Once these fall onto the ground they start producing new oak trees. Typically, acorns have a cap that attaches them to the branch of the tree. You can find the multiple oak trees with varied shapes, sizes, and patterns.


Oak Tree Snapshot

Genus Quercus
Family Fagaceae
Sun exposure Bright sun
Height 40 – 80 feet
Spread 60 – 100 feet
Soil Clayey soil


Varieties of Oak Trees You Should Know About

1. White oak

Commonly called the Quercus alba, the white oak trees come from the eastern areas of the United States. It is one of the highly valuable oak trees for its hardwood timber.


Just like a few other types of oak, this tree grows from pyramidal to rounded shape as it ages. The white oak tree leaves have a big round-shaped lobe with 7 to 9 lobes in every lush green leaf. The bark of this tree is light ash-gray. The tree can wonderfully grow to a height of 50 to 80 feet.


2. Red oak

Quercus Rubra or Red oak is the most loved tree by most people. They grow stunning leaves with 7 to 11 pointed lobes. If you visit the eastern half of the United States you can easily find red oaks in the woodlands.


It is a deciduous tree that has bark with a gray and brown hue. The barks are split up by grooves with little depth. As the tree matures, the oak bark grows flat-topped, broad, and gray ridges.


It can grow to a height of 50 to 75 feet with a spread of about 50 to 75 feet. These trees thrive best in soils with low ph levels and medium moisture.

Check this out if you wish to learn how fast do red oak trees grow.

3. Pin oak

It is one of the most generous types of oak trees because of its shade-giving characteristic. You can commonly find these trees in urban areas because of their good tolerance towards poor soils and pollution.


It can reach a good height of 50 – 70 feet and spread about 40 – 60 feet. Also, it needs acidic, moderate – highly moist soils with full sun. The beautiful leaves of this tree are pointed and lobed in the middle.


While the lower branches of this tree hang down, the upper branches always grow in the upward direction.


4. Black oak

Popularly known as the Quercus Velutina, this oak tree is often confused with the red oaks. But when you’ll identify them carefully you will notice a few differences.


These trees love to grow in dry to moderately moist, dryer, and acidic soil. Also, it requires full sun to grow healthy and can mature to the height of 50 to 60 feet and spread about 50-60’.


Different types of oak grow well in full sun and dry soils and this too belongs to that category. Both black and red oaks have acorns about three-fourth inch long with different caps. Black oaks have distinguishing leaves. The tree’s bark has deep ridges and fissures that are divided by horizontal cracks.


5. Bur oak

Quercus Macrocarpa also famous as the bur oak prefers to grow in neutral to alkaline soil with full exposure to the sun. The tree matures to a height of 60 – 80 ft and spreads about 60 – 80 ft.


The leaves of this tree are odd-shaped and broad at the ends. Also, the leaves bear round-shaped lobes on both half sides. The tree also grows strange-looking acorns that are completely enclosed by a cap that is fringed to a great level.


6. Willow oak

Quercus Phellos is one of the popular oak tree varieties commonly known as the willow oak. It’s a fast-growing species that can mature to a height of 40 to 75 ft and spread about 25 to 50 ft.


Although it’s an oak tree, it doesn’t share any characteristics with other oaks because of its foliage. The common favorable conditions for this tree include acidic soil, moderately moist soil, and full sun. In the fall season, their leaves usually change to brown or gold color.


7. Scarlet oak

Quercus Coccinea or Scarlet oak is one of the prettiest types of oak trees with dark red fall-like color. The leaves of this tree are thin with pointed lobes. You can find 7 to 9 lobes on each leaf with a spiked tip. The tree can grow well in dry to moderately moist and acidic soil. With full sun exposure, the tree can spread about 40 to 50 ft and grow pretty tall from 50 to 70 ft.


8. Chestnut oak

Popularly known as the Quercus Montana, this tree prefers to grow in acidic to neutral soil. The soil can be dry to moderately moist. It belongs to the areas in the eastern United States.


It needs full sun to spread beautifully up to 509 to 70 ft and grow tall up to 50 to 70 ft. It is one of the deciduous oak that is broad and round-shaped. Among its notable features, you can also observe its brown bark with a pattern like a cork.


9. Laurel oak

Quercus Laurifolia also famous as the Laurel oak is a unique oak tree. It is due to the amazing characteristics of both deciduous and evergreen trees. The tree can spread wide up to 40 to 60 ft and grow to a height of 40 to 60 ft.


This tree belongs to the southeast United States. It has leaves that are elliptic and elongated in shape with uniform margins. You can often find these trees in lush green color.


10. Japanese evergreen oak

Japanese evergreen oak (Quercus acuta) is the smallest variety of oak, growing to a maximum of forty-five feet. Its thin trunk and smooth bark set it apart from other types of oak. Japanese evergreen oak leaves are also differently shaped than other oak leaves, with no lobes and a more oblong shape.


11. Valley oak

Quercus lobata or the valley oak can be found in parts of North America and California. The branches of this tree are not uniform and have an arch-like appearance. Its leaves change color from yellow to light orange during the autumn season.


During the middle to end of the fall season, the leaves turn their color to brown. As the tree matures the branches start to hang downwards. Valley oak trees grow quickly, reaching a height of 100 ft and spreading about 2-3 m in diameter.


12. Water oak

The water oak also known as Quercus nigra belongs to the south-central and eastern United States. It is a deciduous tree with alternate leaves that swing on the branches for a long time.


The tree leaves are usually blue-green tinted. It is highly adapted to survive in wet regions. This evergreen species can reach between 65 to 80 ft height, as it matures. But these are short-lived trees that can survive for 30-50 years.


13. Canyon oak

Scientifically known as the Quercus chrysolepis, these are evergreen oak tree varieties that can spread as much as they get taller. It can grow for about 20 to 65 ft and spread wide about 13 to 39 ft in diameter. It prefers to grow in higher elevations with dry soils.


The tree has a wide crown with large-spreading horizontal branches. The deep green leaves of this tree are elliptical and long oval-shaped that grow two to eight cm in length.


14. English oak

Quercus Robur also called the English oak is a magnificent tree that shares a resemblance with the white oak. It’s very popular in England for its timber. However, it originally comes from western Asia and European regions.


The leaves of these trees are round–shaped. It typically prefers to grow in acidic and alkaline soil with medium moisture. Also, the tree requires full sun to mature to a height of 40 – 70 ft and spread about 40 to 70 ft. Some of its larger specimens can also reach a height of 130 ft.


Other Oak Varieties

Swamp White Oak (Quercus Bicolor), Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana) (Live Oak), Dwarf Chestnut Oak (Quercus Prinoides), Gambel Oak (Quercus Gambelii), Spanish Oak (Quercus Falcata), Post Oak (Quercus Stellata) and many more.


Related: Oak Tree Care| Fertilizing Oak Trees

Different Types of Oak Tree Fruits

The oak tree produces unique fruit, which is a nut known as an acorn. The acorn usually bears only one seed in a cup-shaped cupule, surrounded by a hard and leathery shell. It hardly ever contains two seeds.


The acorns can grow from 1 – 6 cm in length and 0.8 – 4 cm in width. Based on the variety of oak, these fruits can mature in about 6 – 24 months.


The oak tree fruits are strong enough to grow beautiful oak trees. Not only this, but these fruits also support a variety of wildlife like squirrels, bears, deer, and birds. There are some kinds of acorns that even humans can be consumed as baked, roasted, or even raw.


Oak Tree Leaves

The magnificent oak tree varieties grow different shapes of leaves, with entire margins, lobed or toothed. Based on the variety the leaves are simple, evergreen deciduous, or alternate. The oak tree produces male flowers hanging with yellow catkins and appears either after or with the leaves.


Oak Tree Bark

Also known as Quercus alba, the oak bark belongs to the Fagaceae family of trees. It is extracted from inside the tree’s bark and galls (round growth) that get formed on the tree.


The oak bark can be used for medicinal purposes. You can dry it and turn it into powder for oral or topical application. It can be used to cure inflammation, itchy skin, bronchitis, arthritis, common cold, and sore throats.



Q. What is the most common type of oak tree?

A. There are many oak trees that you’ll find suitable for business or residential landscapes. Many ornamental oak trees are commonly planted like Red oak, Pin oak, Willow oak, White oak, and Bur oak.


Among these, the white oak is the most desirable ornamental tree desired by many people. They are useful for many medicinal purposes like to heal arthritis, cough, bronchitis, cold, and fever.


The tree also provides stunning hardwood useful to make boats, flooring, cabinetry, and furniture.


Q. What is the prettiest oak tree?

A. Nearly all types of oak trees are pretty magnificent. Most people love it for its beauty and robust characteristics. However, there are a few of its varieties that are exceptionally beautiful and most often tend to be planted.


The prettiest oak tree varieties include the Red oak tree, Bur Oak tree, and Scarlet Oak tree. All of these are excellent trees known for their attractive foliage, unique leaf color, and shape as well as brilliant stability.


Q. What does an oak tree symbolize?

A. There is no doubt that everyone loves to have an oak tree in their garden or yard. And, it’s all because the oak trees symbolize strength, resistance, morale, endurance, fertility, power, longevity, knowledge, and stability.


Q. What is the fastest-growing oak tree?

A. If you are looking to beautify your house, you can certainly consider adding some oaks. Many oak trees usually grow slowly, but there are some which are fast-growing.


The quick-growing oak trees like Mexican white oak, Laurel oak, Nuttall oak, swamp white oak, water oak, and more. Among these, the Nuttall oak (also known as pin red oak or pin oak) takes a very short time to grow into mature specimens with a growth rate of 24 – 36’’ per year.

Here is a bonus read for you on how fast do nuttall oaks grow ?

Q. What is the average height of oak trees?

A. When it comes to the height of different types of oak trees, most of them grow above average. On average, the oak tree species can grow about 50 to 70 ft tall.


Most of the species can also climb to a height of 100 feet and above. Among the beautiful oak tree varieties, the white oak trees are the tallest.


Q. What is the average lifespan of an oak tree?

A. Normally, the life period of oak varies from species to species. Some specific species can thrive for a shorter or longer period based on their growth conditions.


On average, the lifespan of an oak tree is between 100 to 300 years. The white oak tree has the longest lifespan of about 600 years.