print Print

Pin OakQuercus palustris

  • Pin Oak - Quercus palustris
  • Pin Oak - Quercus palustris
  • Pin Oak - Quercus palustris
  • Pin Oak - Quercus palustris
  • Pin Oak - Quercus palustris

“The pin oak pleases me for reasons I cannot wholly explain,” wrote nature writer Hal Borland in A Countryman’s Woods.

But homeowners and city foresters are pleased with this tree for very specific reasons: strong wood; dense shade; tolerance of many soil conditions, heat, soil compaction and air pollution; free from most major pests; pleasing to the eye in all seasons; and easy to plant. Needless to say, this faster-growing oak is a common sight in yards, along streets and throughout parks.


Hardiness Zones

The pin oak can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–8. View Map

Tree Type

This is a shade tree, featuring a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight.

Mature Size

The pin oak grows to a height of 60–70' and a spread of 25–40' at maturity.

Growth Speed Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The pin oak grows in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils. It can tolerate wet conditions, including moderate flooding.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Has a distinctive branching pattern that sets it apart, especially in winter.
  • Provides great fall color, with leaves turning shades of scarlet and bronze.
  • Is easier than most to transplant.
  • Features glossy, dark green leaves that are 3–6" long with 5 lobes (although sometimes 7–9) separated by very deep sinuses.
  • Produces yellow-green catkins that are 5¬–7" long and typically appear in April and May.
  • Yields acorns that are nearly round and ½" long with a thin, saucer-like cap made of small, tight scales.
  • Offers dense shade.
  • Tolerates heat, air pollution and compacted soil.
  • Develops a single, central trunk from ground to tip.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape.
  • Cannot tolerate alkaline soils.

Wildlife Value

Pin oak acorns are eaten by many songbirds, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, squirrels and smaller rodents but are a particularly important food for many ducks.

History/Lore

The name pin oak comes from its short, tough branchlets located along the branches and limbs. Because of its tolerance for wet conditions, the tree is also known regionally as swamp oak, water oak and swamp Spanish oak. The tree was first observed scientifically prior to 1770.