Red Oak Tree Varieties (All-In-One Guide)

 Types of red oak

Fast-growing red oaks have deep green lobed leaflets with bristly tips, light green catkins (flower bunches), and an irregularly shaped crown. We will be covering different types of red oak trees in this article.


These trees are known for their stunning fall colors, which include brilliant tones of crimson, burgundy, and copper. They also bear acorns which are found on all oak species. They’re spherical, reddish nuts with warty tops.


Skip To


All About Red Oaks (Snapshot)

Before we dive into different red oak varieties, here’s a brief overview:


Scientific name Quercus rubra
Native area Eastern North America
Plant type Deciduous tree
Height 50-75 ft
Sunlight Full sun
Soil type Fertile, Sandy, Dry, Well-Draining
Hardiness zone 4-8 USDA


Kinds of Red Oak Trees

There are two types of red oak trees


A. Northern Red Oaks

There are various popular names for northern red oak, including gray oak, eastern red oak, and mountain oak. These names vary according to the region in which you live. Quercus rubra is the scientific name for the red oak tree.


There is a good chance that the name Quercus originates from a Celtic term meaning “lovely tree.” The name “red” probably comes from the reddish hue of the leaves in the fall, the crimson color of the pedicels, which attach the foliage to the branches, and the scarlet color of the internal wood.


The northern red oak is known for its rapid growth. It has a wide canopy, which encourages it to grow. The tree can reach a height of 25 meters when it is completely grown, and its leaves are bright green.


Northern red oak trees can withstand high winds. In addition, it has a substantial worth in the marketplace and has been around for more than 400 years. Aside from that, it can grow as much as 2 feet every year for the next 10 years.


Related: How fast does a red oak grow?


The next type in red oak varieties is Southern Red Oaks:


B. Southern Red Oaks

The Spanish oak, commonly known as southern red oak, is an incredible oak species (Q. falcata).


Southern red oak trees have a color that is dark green and lustrous on the top but rusty and fuzzy on the bottom of the tree.


This variety of red oak trees has a robust root system, a relatively small trunk, and two distinct kinds of leaves. The first has three leaves, while the second has five to seven deep leaves. Additional divisions are made in the terminal leaves.


The beech family, also known as the Fagaceae, is home to the Southern red oak tree. These oaks grow tall and have straight trunks, but as they age, they develop branches that branch out in all directions, giving the tree a more rounded appearance at the top. 80-foot-tall southern oaks are a common sight.


Southern red oak leaves measure between 5 to 9 inches long. They have a hairy brown bottom and an upper surface that is dark green. Leaf lobes feature 3 to 5 bristle-tipped lobes and are circular at the base. Their long and narrow lobes are distinct from other red oaks.


How Can You Tell A Red Oak Tree?

Multiple subspecies belong to multiple types of red oak trees, but their distinctions are so minute that only a botanist with a graduate-level education could distinguish between them.


Species within a community can interbreed, making it challenging to differentiate between them. Acorn sizes, leaf shapes, and bark patterns can vary widely among these hybrids, making them difficult to categorize.


If you want to find red oak varieties, look for the following features:



Red oaks, in particular, have lobes with small bristles at the tips of each lobe that are pointy. The lobes of white oak trees are more rounded and free of bristles than those of other oaks.



The tree can also be identified successfully based on its bark. When young, the bark of a northern red oak is typically smooth and gray, but as the tree matures, it develops lengthy furrows with flat-topped ridges. Known colloquially as “ski trail bark,” this earlier type of the tree’s bark becomes increasingly apparent with time.



Acorns are the primary form of reproduction for northern red oak trees, which begin producing acorns after about 20–25 years. Many species can be identified by their unique acorn shape and size, which makes it difficult to generalize about acorns.


Most of the time, however, acorns from the northern red oak trees will only have caps (also known as cups) covering the top one-fourth of the nut.

On the whole, they have the appearance of a beret with a brim.


How Fast Do Red Oak Trees Grow?

Depending on red oak varieties, red oak (Quercus spp.) can grow from a medium-sized to a large tree and have moderate to rapid growth. The annual growth rate of red oak trees can reach up to two feet. There are many kinds of red oak trees; the one you choose to plant will depend on your area’s climate.


Related: Oak tree growth rate | Oak leaves | How long does an oak tree take to grow?


How Long Do Red Oak Trees Live?

According to the types of red oak, the lifespan of red oaks can range from 80 years to more than 500 or even 600 years. The Northern red oak can live up to 400 years and is hardy in USDA plant climate zones 3 to 9.


In USDA zones 7 through 10, the California Black Oak can live up to 500 years. The Pechanga Great Oak Tree is a coastal live oak believed to be 850 to 1,500 years old. Even though most coastal live oaks do not live to be this old, these trees can survive in USDA zones 8 to 10.


Related: Oak tree lifespan


How Do I Identify A Red Oak Leaf?

The leaves of various types of red oak trees are uncomplicated and alternately oriented on the twig. They can be up to 11-lobed and range from 5 to 9 inches, with petioles between one and two inches slender and lengthy.


The lobes are typically a little larger than one-third of the entire leaf diameter; the veins of the leaflets are u-shaped, and the terminals of the leaflets are bristle-tipped.


The upper surfaces of the leaves of red oak trees have a glossy sheen and a dark green coloration. The undersides of the leaves can occasionally be distinguished by the presence of tiny hairs and a tint that is lighter and more yellowish-green. The red oaks give the area a vivacious makeover in the fall as their leaves change color.


Red Oak Flowers, Fruits, and Barks

Based on characteristics, anyone can find the kind of oak they are attending to.



Clusters of yellowish-green flowers with no notable scent are produced by a red oak tree during its brief period of flowering.


‘Monoecious’ refers to the fact that a single tree can bear both male and female buds at the same time. All types of red oak fall into this category.


Red oak male flowers have long, dangling catkins, which measure around 4 inches (10cm) in length. The female flowers have a bluish-green coloration and appear as little spikes clustered in groups of two to five at the very tips of the branches.



Brown, barrel-shaped acorns with pointy tips are produced by red oak. There is a solitary seed inside each of the acorn’s leathery shells. A distinctive knobby flat cup-shaped cap covers one-third of a red oak acorn’s surface.


One-inch (25 mm) long red oak acorns can be found in the wild. The acorns require two years to grow on the trees, just as those of all red oak species.

Red Oak Tree Pros and Cons


Red oak is unquestionably the best choice if you want to see your oak tree develop swiftly. The red oak tree varieties can grow more than 2 feet in one year. During the autumn, the leaves of red oak trees don’t turn as many shades of color, but they do turn a stunning shade of red before autumn. When it comes to pollution, red oaks are better able to withstand it than white oaks, and they’re also easier to relocate.


On The Downside – Some Issues

The lower height of a red oak may be a negative that some individuals will never be able to get over. These young trees lack the majesty of fully mature white oaks from the perspective of many people.


Watering a red oak tree can be a delicate balancing act as the tree is a bit finicky about it



Q. What’s the difference between a northern red oak and a southern red oak?

A. The two different types of red oak trees are Northern Red Oak and Southern Red Oak.


Northern Red Oak Southern Red Oak
Found in the northeastern United States and Canada. Found further south than the northern red oak (Quercus rubra)
Leaf lobes range from 7 to 11. Symmetrical leaves. Side-to-side asymmetry is expected in the leaves. The bell-shaped base of the leaf.
The bark’s smoothest edges are seen on the outermost layers. Rougher-textured in the very outermost reaches of the bark.
Larger acorns. The nut’s smooth surface is protected by acorn caps that cover 1/3 to 1/4 of the nut. Smaller acorns. The nut’s surface is wrinkled, and the acorn cap covers 1/3 to 1/2 of the nut.


Q. Is there a difference between red oak and scarlet oak?

A. Let’s look at some differences between the two.

Red Oak (Quercus rubra)


Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)


Found in the northeastern United States and Canada. Fast-growing red oak of dry highland settings, known for its fall foliage’s dark red hue.
Leaf lobes range from 7 to 11. Leaf lobes range from 5 to 9.
Higher-quality nuts with smaller caps that cover less of the kernel. These are smaller acorns with a cap covering only half of the acorn.
Mature tree bark has long, uninterrupted ridges with pale gray on the outermost layer and rough, wide troughs. Mature bark is scaly. Broken vertical ridges interlaced with narrower, deeper incisions.
Hairless or tip-haired buds. Unangular. Buds that are pubescent at the tip but hairless at the base. 5-sided cross-section.


Q. Are red oaks prone to pests and diseases?

A. Red oak tree varieties are not very prone to pests or diseases when cared for. Things you must take care of are adequate fertilization, mulching, watering, and pruning to keep pests at bay. Organic pesticides, which do not harm beneficial predators, can also manage pests.


Some diseases to look out for are bacterial leaf scorch, oak blisters, root rot, etc.


Related: How to care for oak trees?