True to its name, the scarlet oak produces wonderful scarlet fall color. This tree is best used in residential yards rather than as a street tree.
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.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Residential and parks
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Fall color
Season of Interest:
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Migrant birds
Tree & Plant Care
Difficult to transplant due to a deep taproot.
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 black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to North America, including a few counties in Illinois.
Commonly found in dry, upland sites.
Bark color and texture
Bark is smooth and dark gray in youth, maturing to shallowly fissured.
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 scarlet in fall.
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 1 inch long topped with a cap that encloses 1/2 to 1/3 of the nut. Borne singly or in pairs.