Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Quercus falcata

Southern red oak, Bottomland red oak, Three-lobed red oak, Spanish oak

Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Quercus falcata (Southern red oak)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Southern red oak is a medium-sized, straight-trunked oak which, in time, develops long, spreading branches, giving the top an even, well-formed appearance. Its smooth gray bark becomes dark and furrowed, eventually becoming black. Thin, papery, lobed, bristle-tipped deciduous leaves turn reddish-brown in fall. Twigs pubescent reddish-brown twig with star shaped pith; reddish-brown terminal bud is ovoid and pubescent. Leaf petiole 3/4 - 2 3/8 inches (19 - 60 mm) in length, smooth to sparsely pubescent; leaves are elliptical to ovate, 4 - 11 3/4 inches (101 - 298 mm) long and 2 3/8 - 6 1/4 inches (60 - 159 mm) wide, u-shaped base, margin has 3 - 7 deeply divided lobes with 1 - 3 bristle-tipped teeth, apex longer than lateral lobes; upper surface a glossy green often with some pubescence along midrib, lower surface covered with gray or tawny pubescence, secondary veins raised on both surfaces.

Often called Spanish Oak, possibly because it commonly occurs in areas of the early Spanish colonies. It is unlike any oaks native to Spain. The lumber is marketed as Red Oak. Cherrybark Oak (Q. pagoda Raf.) is sometimes considered a variety of Q. falcata (Q. falcata var. pagodifolia Ell). The lobes of its leaves taper to points that remind some people of the graduated roofs of pagodas. The leaves have 5-11 broad shallow lobes and whitish hairs beneath, and the bark is smooth and cherry-like with short ridges.

Image Gallery:

4 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Lobed
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Moderately fast growing, medium to large tree, which grows to 150 feet (45.7 m).
Leaf: Upper surface a glossy green often with some pubescence along midrib, lower surface covered with gray or tawny pubescence.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Acorns biennial; thin, reddish-brown cup with pubescent inner and outer surface, usually covers up to 1/3 of the nut; rounded, brown nut, 3/8 - 5/8 inch (9 - 16 mm) long, may be striated at the tip with pubescence. Maximum potential height is 70 ft., alth
Size Class: More than 100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MD , MS , MO , NJ , NC , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV , DC
Native Distribution: Occurs from New Jersey and Florida west to Oklahoma and Texas.
Native Habitat: Dry upland sites of sandy or clay loam throughout the southeastern United States.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, loamy or clay soils. Acid-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam
Conditions Comments: Southern red oak can subsist on some of the most abused, degraded soils found anywhere in the South. In these conditions, however, the tree develops a weather-beaten, unkempt appearance. The tree grows relatively quickly, for an oak, and is long-lived.


Use Ornamental: Shade tree, Fall conspicuous, Long-living, Fast growing
Use Wildlife: Substrate-insectivorous birds, Nesting site, Fruit-birds, mammals, rodents, deer. Cover.
Use Other: Southern red oak lumber is marketed as red oak for construction and furniture.
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Banded hairstreak, White M hairstreak.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Quercus falcata is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Banded Hairstreak
(Satyrium calanus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
White M Hairstreak
(Parrhasius m-album)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-11-16