Pin Oak – Quercus palustris
Quercus palustris, the pin oak, also called Swamp Oak, is probably the most widely used and popular native oak for landscaping in lawns, parks, golf courses, commercial landscapes, and streets.
It’s strongly pyramidal shape in youth changes to oval-pyramidal as it ages. Losing its lower branches and its pin like twigs as it ages is also a trait that makes it a good street tree. Its fast growth can be up to an average 2 feet 5 inches per year, with an average mature height of 60 feet and a spread of 35 feet. Pin oaks prefer moist, rich, acidic (low pH) well drained soil but can tolerate poor, wet clay soil and periods of standing water. They are not tolerant of high pH soils, showing signs of chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) when planted in high pH soil.
They are easily transplanted due to their shallow fibrous root system. Tree bark is grayish brown and matures to relatively shallow ridges and furrows. The bark was used by some Native American tribes to make a drink for the treatment of intestinal pain. Leaf color is glossy dark green in summer, turning to russet, bronze, and red in autumn. Many of the leaves may remain on the trees all winter. Nuts are solitary or clustered and mature in the second year. The acorn is unpalatable because of the kernel is very bitter however they are an important food source for wildlife such as white tail deer, squirrels, turkey, woodpecker, and Wood ducks. There are several cultivars of pin oak in the trade.
The native habitat for pin oaks is Massachusetts to Delaware and west to Wisconsin and Arkansas.
~contributed by Judy Fogel