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Quercus falcata, Southern Red Oak

Southern Red Oak can usually be found growing in the wild in poor soils on slopes and hilltops. Although the tree is not usually found in clay soils, they are suitable provided the site is sloped so soil drains well. Trees are strongest when grown with one trunk up through the center of the tree. This form has to be developed with several prunings when the tree is young. Remove branches and trunks that grow straight up and compete with the main trunk. Would make a nice shade tree for planting in commercial, residential, and streetscapes with plenty of soil space for root expansion.

Trees occur naturally throughout north Florida south to Marion County.

Naturally found on poor upland soils, Southern Red Oak should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil, acid, sandy or loam (not clay). It is common on poor-quality, sandy ridges. It is well suited for planting in areas such as along roadsides where there is little maintenance after planting. The wood is used for furniture but does not have the quality of Quercus rubra. Leaves fall brown over an extended period of time in fall and winter. Some defoliation is noted during the summer in arid years, but this is probably a drought-avoidance mechanism. No permanent damage appears to come from this. Variety pagodaefolia, Cherrybark Oak, is adaptable, growing commonly along stream banks and less commonly on ridge tops throughout its range. It may be more commonly available than the species.

Foliage of the species varies greatly with some leaves with three lobes and others with up to thirteen. Trees often occur singly perhaps due to salicylic acid that leaches from leaves.

Wood weighs about 60 pounds per cubic foot. Oak wood is considered ring porous to semi-ring porous. Oaks serve as larvae host plants for the brown duskywing butterfly (Erynnis horatius) and the gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus).

National champion is 96 x 119 feet in Maryland.

Southern Red Oak Photos

Southern Red Oak

Southern Red Oak

Southern Red Oak Leaves

Southern Red Oak Bark

Additional Information