Loved and preferred for its sturdiness and aesthetic beauty it provides, the oak tree became one of the most popular trees since the 9th century.
Since then, Oak trees have been used for a wide variety of functions few of which are spatial decoration, furniture production, and architecture.
Oaktree varieties are also important sources of food for wild animals and are used to naturally fatten poultry and swine instead of harmful industrial foods.
But, most importantly, the Oak tree, which can grow for centuries, is a crucial carbon sink, and the more that are planted and protected, the more emissions they can help remove from the atmosphere.
Whether you want to learn the types of oak trees to be able to identify them, for a study, or you are looking for the perfect oak tree for your landscape, this article will help you.
What are Oak Trees?
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae. The number of living oak species is around 500.
Leaf arrangement on oak trees is usually in spirals. The fruit is a nut called an acorn or oak nut borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on the species.
The acorns and leaves contain tannic acid, which helps to guard against fungi and insects. The varieties are all broadly divided into these two main categories: red oaks and white oaks.
White Oak Trees The leaves on white oak trees are rounded and smooth. Their acorns mature in one year and they sprout soon after they fall to the ground. This group includes Chinkapin, Post oak, Bur oak, White oak, and Swamp White Oak.
You may be thinking right now. How exactly do I identify oaks?
The best way to identify oaks is by the Leaf Shapes, Acorns, and Flowers.
As I have said before, the fruit of an oak tree is an acorn and they work just like seeds – they can sprout new trees after they fall into the ground. You can identify an acorn by its peculiar appearance – they have a cap.
The branch connects to the acorn through an attachment to the cap. Different species have acorns with different sizes, shapes, and textures and an acorn can also be used to differentiate between different oak species.
The number of lobes and the shape of the oak leaf can help you identify the species of oaks.
Oaks also have conspicuous flowers. Male and female flowers. The male flowers look like dangling catkins and are more noticeable than the former. Female flowers are smaller and grow later on in the season.
Now that you’ve been able to identify an oak, before choosing the right oak for your landscape, you must be able to distinguish one oak from another. Here are 14 of the best types of oak trees you can choose from and where to find them.
Types of Oak Trees and Where to Find Them
- Willow Oak
- Southern Live Oak
- Bur Oak
- White Oak Tree
- Pin Oak
- Swamp white oak
- Japanese Evergreen Oak
- Quercus Gambelii (Gambel Oak)
- Willock Oak
- (Quercus alba)
- Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)
- Mexican White Oak (Quercus Polymorph)
- Garry Oak (Quercus Garryana)
- Post Oak (Quercus Stellata)
- Sawtooth Oak (Quercus Acutissima)
1. Willow Oak
The first among the types of oak trees we will discuss is the Willow Oak. The Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) has thin, straight leaves similar to those of a willow tree.
That’s how it earned its name. It grows up to 60-75 ft tall (18-23 m.). It adapts well to urban conditions. This tree grows quite quickly and may be too large for home settings and some urban settings.
Therefore, they have usually used as street trees and for buffer areas along highways.
The plant is most renowned for being able to handle drought and pollution. Also, it has no serious insect or pest problems.
It’s also called willow because of its similarity of absorbing water. When it is young, it needs extra care of water supply but can handle drought.
Willow oak trees can be found in New York, Missouri, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma.
2. Southern Live Oak
The Southern Live Oak can reach up to a height of 50 feet (15 meters) or more on higher altitudes such as ridges and hills but they are shorter on coastal soils.
This tree’s trunk is pretty separated from the ground, and its branches are very outspread and can be about 2-3 times longer than the height of the tree. Typically, the Southern Red Oak prefers proper-drained soils and good weather conditions.
The Southern Live Oak species naturally grows on the coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean, Cuba, and the Gulf.
3. Bur Oak
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is a white oak tree. It is a very good shade tree because it is massive. The bur oak grows up to 70 – 80 ft tall (22-24 m.). It has an unusual branch structure – drooped branched.
With its deeply furrowed bark, the tree is well adapted to fire because of its fire-resistant bark.
It is a species native to Eastern North America.
4. White Oak Tree
The list of the types of oak trees cannot be complete without mentioning the white Oak Tree.
The white Oak Tree (Q. alba) is different from the broad classification of trees called white oaks. This tree grows very slowly. It grows to 50 – 100 feet (15-30 m.). After 10 to 12 years of planting, the tree may be only 10 to 15 ft tall which is 3-5 meters.
You shouldn’t plant white oak trees near sidewalks or patios or walls because the trunk spreads at the base. There are other trees you can plant in your yard without a problem.
It should be planted in a permanent site when it is still a very young sapling since it dislikes being disturbed. In the winter, when it is dormant, prune the tree.
This name comes from the color of its finished timber products.
The white oak tree can be found in Eastern Canada and the United States from Quebec and Ontario, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, and Maine.
5. Pin Oak (Q. palustris)
This type has dangling branches at its base and a huge crown with a pyramidal appearance. It has 5-7 highly shredded leaves that become crimson in the fall, along with 5-inch long, bright green leaves.
The pin oak grows 60 – 75 feet tall (18-23 meters). It features a well-shaped canopy with top branches that grow upward and lower branches that descend and a straight stem.
It creates an excellent shade tree, although you might need to cut back some of the lower branches to make room.
Oaks frequently flourish in the damp highland soils of the Central and Eastern US.
6. Querbus Bicolor (Swamp white oak)
Swamp white oak is a white Oak species. It is a large tree that grows to 100 feet (30.5 m) with an irregular crown. Its bark is dark-gray, with deep furrows that form scaly or flat ridges.
The widely used name of this tree is derived from how well it grows in damp soils. They also grow in full sun.
Swamp white oak’s branches are just as large and spreading as white oaks are. But they frequently produce more secondary branches on their branches.
At times, the branches in the lower crown create a wide arch that sweeps downward. Round lobes may be seen on the leaves.
Also, it can thrive in any habitat, making it a wild Oak species.
Swamp white oak is a North American Oak that grows in the North Eastern and America’s North-Central mixed forests. It grows in Minnesota, Nebraska, Maine, and North Carolina, and north to Quebec.
7. Japanese Evergreen Oak
Japanese Evergreen Oak (Q. acuta) is the smallest of the oak trees.
The Japanese evergreen oak grows up to 20 to 30 ft tall (6-9 m.) as a medium height.
It works well as a yard or lawn tree and privacy screen. Even though it is little, the tree may nevertheless give considerable shade.
This species is found in several locations in Southwestern Japan. It is native to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China’s Guizhou Province and Guangdong Province.
8. Quercus Gambelii (Gambel Oak)
Gambel oak just like the Japanese Evergreen Oak is another variety of oak that is on the smaller side. This oak tree only grows to an average height of 30 feet at maturity. It has a long life span – can live up to 150 years.
The plant has a rounded form which changes in later years. In the older age of the Quercus Gambelii, it takes on a weeping form or shape that requires plenty of space.
Gambel oak can adapt to both moist and dry soils. This is an invaluable quality in trees. Its leaves have rounded lobes and it sheds them annually.
Another notable feature of the Gambel oak is that it has a notable high production of acorns in the fall. Animals gather them for food and hide them for fore winter.
9. The Willock Oak
The Willock oak is the ninth oak tree among the different types of oak trees that you should know. It is a medium to large-size and fast-growing tree. It shed its leaf annually.
It is commonly grown as a street tree in the southern United States. It has shallow roots and can last for over 100 years.
The Willock Oak variety performs well in poorly-drained areas. In the Gulf and Atlantic Plains and the Mississippi Valley region in North America.
10. Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)
The Sessile Oak is also known as Cornish or Durmast Oak. It is a type of white oak.
Sessile oaks are the official national trees of Ireland. Quercus petraea is widely distributed in Europe for its value in the timber industry, and sessile oaks can live for hundreds of years.
Quercus petraea is widely spread throughout Europe because it is priced for its use in the time industry, for fattening animals, and for fuel.
This oak can be found in large parts of Iran, Anatolia, and Europe where it is growing. Apart from being the official national tree of Ireland, this Oak variety is an emblem in Cornwall and Walse.
11. Mexican White Oak (Quercus Polymorph)
Also known as Monterrey Oak or Net Leaf White Oak, its leaves are semi-evergreen, thick, and leathery with prominent veins on the yellowish underside. It is native to Mexico, Guatemala, and Texas—only barely.
Mexican White Oak is resistant to oak wilt.
This is a common Oak species in Mexico. It is widely planted as an ornamental in Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras.Post Oak (Quercus Stellata)
12. Garry Oak (Quercus Garryana)
In Canada and the US, it is also referred to as Garry Oak and Oregon (White) Oak, respectively.
An attractive tree with thick, rough, greyish-black bark. It grows up to 20 meters tall.
This variety mostly grows in Southern California, between 300 and 1,800 meters above sea level, and in Northern California, at 210 meters.
From Southwest British Columbia to Southern California, this ubiquitous oak variety can be found.
13. Post Oak (Quercus Stellata)
The post oak tree which is also called the iron oak is part of the white oak group.
It is easy to grow because it will grow in nearly all soil conditions. It is and is considered small because it rarely gets past 50 feet tall and very rarely to 100 feet.
The leaves look like Maltese crosses.
There are approximately ten distinct post oak tree species, as well as nearly ten hybrids. Its resistance to decay makes it a popular choice for urban forestry.
14. Sawtooth Oak (Quercus Acutissima)
Last but surely not on the list of types of oak trees is the Sawtooth Oak. The tree can get up to nearly 100 feet high. The leaf’s edges are jagged like the edges of a saw, hence the name.
The acorns of the sawtooth oak mature in about 18 months. Acorns are bicolored with an orange tint that covers the majority of the acorn and a greenish-brown tip, and they grow to be a little over an inch long.
The Sawtooth Oak is native to areas such as China, Japan, Korea, and others.
From afar, wide oak canopies add a pleasing aesthetic to the landscape through their rounded forms. Beneath those lofty branches, you will find the relief of cool shade on hot summer days.
Various types of Oak trees can be found in the US and in other parts of the world. The types of oak trees come with distinct features and use.
Fortunately, we have looked at a comprehensive guide of over 15 types of Oak trees and where to find them — you can use this guide to identify different Oak species easily.
What is the most common type of Oak Tree?
White Oak Tree (Q. alba). The white oak tree can be found in Eastern Canada and the United States from Quebec to Ontario, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, and Maine.
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Precious Okafor is a digital marketer and online entrepreneur that got into the online space in 2017 and since then have developed skills in content creation, copywriting and online marketing. He is also a Green activist and hence his role in publishing articles for EnvironmentGo