Hill's oak, a Chicago region native, is very similar in appearance to pin oak, but has the advantage of tolerating a higher soil pH. This means that the chlorosis (yellowing) that is common in pin oak is not a problem for Hill's oak. Hill's oak can be used in parkways and has excellent fall color.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- May be difficult to find in nurseries,
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Fall color
Season of Interest:
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Cavity-nesting birds,
- Migrant birds,
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
Tolerant of dry soils, but moist, well-drained soils are preferred.
Tolerant of alkaline soils.
Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.
Disease, pests, and problems
Oak wilt is a potential disease problem.
Insect pests include scale and two-lined chestnut borer.
Galls caused by mites or insects are common, but not harmful.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of high soil pH so chlorosis is not a problem
Native geographic location and habitat
Commonly found in dry, upland sites
Bark color and texture
Bark is relatively smooth and gray. At maturity shallow ridges will form at the base of the tree.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate leaves with deep sinuses and bristle-tipped lobes; 3 to 6 inches long.
Dark green in summer, changing to red in fall. Dried leaves remain on tree into winter.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Male flowers in dangling catkins; female flowers smaller and held close to the stem. Not ornamentally important.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Acorns, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long with a slightly elongated shape. Cap covers about 1/3 of the nut.
Majestic Skies™ (Quercus ellipsoidalis 'Bailskies'): New foliage of this cultivar emerges red, then matures to a dark green and finally changes to red in fall.