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Pin oak

A mature pin oak.

Pin oak is an Illinois native and has been widely planted in landscapes for many years.  Unfortunately this tree suffers greatly from chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves due to high soil pH.  This can be a very serious problem on this species, so pin oak is no longer recommended for landscapes in areas with high soil pH.  In areas where chlorosis is not a problem, this tree can provide russet to red 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.

Botanical name:

Quercus palustris

All Common Names:

pin oak

Family (English):

Beech

Family (Botanic):

Fagaceae

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree

Foliage:

  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

60-70 feet

Mature Width:

40-50 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Wet soil

Tolerances:

  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Clay soil

Acid Soils:

  • Requires

Alkaline Soils:

  • Intolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Intolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Tolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Messy fruit/plant parts

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color

Season of Interest:

  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Oval,
  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • Yes

Wildlife:

  • Game birds,
  • Game mammals,
  • Migrant birds,
  • Small mammals

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) is a severe problem on this tree when planted in alkaline soils.
Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.

Disease, pests, and problems

Oak wilt and oak blister are potential disease problems.
Insect problems mostly limited to galls.
Chlorosis can cause serious damage and decline.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value:  8
Native to low-land wet areas

Bark color and texture 

Smooth gray, developing shallow, dark fissures with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple leaves arranged alternately on the twig; lobed with bristle tips.  Medium green in summer, changing to russet or red if chlorosis is not present.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous, male catkins  and small female flowers on the same tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small acorn (1/2 inch) with a thin cap.

Location of Quercus palustris (Pin oak) at the Arboretum