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Scarlet OakQuercus coccinea

  • Scarlet Oak - Quercus coccinea
  • Scarlet Oak - Quercus coccinea

Aptly named, the scarlet oak is a parade of red throughout the seasons. In the early spring, new leaves unfurl with a red hue. The vibrant red fall display is truly magnificent. And those red leaves often hangs on through the first snow, giving winter a touch of much-needed color. The inner bark of the scarlet oak is even red.

This tree is a very popular landscape choice for more than vivid color, however. Tolerance for poor soils and wind resistance combine with its beauty to make the scarlet oak a widely used species throughout parks, in large yards and along streets. Perhaps these are also the reasons why it has the honor of being the official tree of District of Columbia.

Hardiness Zones

The scarlet oak can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–9. View Map

Tree Type

This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

Mature Size

The scarlet oak grows to a height of 60–80' and a spread of 40–50' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" 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 scarlet oak is very versatile—growing in a wide range of soils except alkaline. While it prefers normal moisture, the tree has some drought tolerance.


This tree:
  • Provides brilliant red fall color that extends well into winter, making an excellent splash against the white snow.
  • Features leaves that are 4–7" long with 7 (rarely 9) narrow, bristle-tipped lobes separated by deep sinuses.
  • Yields acorns that are ½–1" in length and enclosed by a bowl-like, scaly cup. An especially large crop is produced every 3–5 years.
  • Develops an open crown, providing light shade.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Should not be planted in alkaline soil.

Wildlife Value

Scarlet oak acorns are an important food source for many large songbirds, wild turkeys, grouse, squirrels and white-tailed deer.


The native range of the Scarlet Oak tree extends from Maine to Florida and west to Missouri. The first scientific observations of this tree were made in 1691.