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Monday, April 23, 2012

Quercus rubra - Red Oak

The beautiful red oak, so variable, yet so distinct in appearance. Beautiful rounded shape, beautiful fall colors and handsome foliage. The red oak is one of a half dozen  "red oaks" that you might encounter so we will look at several of the common ones here in Santa Cruz.

The red oak is a large deciduous tree, 60-75', often with multiple leaders developing a rounded crown. However in youth it may be rounded or pyramidal with a central leader, as I mentioned, quite variable especially when young.

Leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, obovate, deeply lobed, with bristle tipped lobes. Lobes extend about half way to the midrib. Leaves are 6-8" long. 

Fruit is an acorn, 3/4-1" long, with a small cap. Seem to produce large quantities of acorns around here.

Male flowers are in catkins. Females are found in small clusters further back from the tip. Male catkins are not seen in the winter like Birches.

Stems are stout, reddish to green color, glabrous. Buds are clustered, imbricate, 1/4-1/3" long and sharp pointed.

Fall color is beautiful. Reds followed by browns.

Misidentification: Just about any other pinnately lobed oak. Especially one you dont know is around. Leaf size is important, so is the shallow lobes, and the longish more rounded buds. The tree shape is also important as they tend to be more rounded than other oaks.

Santa Cruz, Corner of Cedar and Walnut
511 Caledonia St
541 Buena Vista Ave on the Pine St side of the house.

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