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Vick, Albert F. W.
Quercus coccinea Muenchh.
Scarlet oak, Red oak
USDA Symbol: QUCO2
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Large tree with a rounded, open crown of glossy foliage, best known for its brilliant autumn color. Scarlet oak is a 75 ft., deciduous tree, occasionally reaching heights of 150 ft. A somewhat pyramidal crown develops from stout, ascending branches. Bark brown with fine fissures and scaly ridges, inner bark is red to orangish-pink. Twigs are smooth reddish-brown; clustered terminal buds are ovoid and reddish-brown with pubescence near the apex, 5-angled in cross section. Leaves smooth petiole 3/4 - 2 3/8 inches (19 - 60 mm) in length; leaves are elliptic to obovate, 2 3/4 - 6 1/4 inches (70 - 159 mm) long, 3 - 5 1/8 inches (76 - 130 mm) wide, margins with 5 - 9 lobes extending more than 1/2 the distance to the midrib, base truncate, apex acute; upper surface a glossy light green, with tufts of axillary tomentum beneath, secondary veins raised on both surfaces. Leaves turn rich, scarlet-red in the fall. Catkins appear just before or with the appearance of new leaves.
A popular and handsome shade and street tree. The lumber is marketed as Red Oak, which differs in its shallowly lobed, dull green leaves, and acorns with a shallow cup. Black Oak (Quercus velutina) is also similar, but has yellow-green leaves with brown hairs beneath and acorns with a deep cup of loose hairy scales. This species is very susceptible to fire damage because of its thin bark. Such injuries often result in heart rot. Grows rapidly and begins to bear fruit at age 20.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Elliptic
, Obovate Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Margin:
Lobed Leaf Apex: Acute Leaf Base: Truncate Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Catkin Fruit Type: Nut Size Notes:
Fast growing large tree
that can obtain a height of 120 feet (36.6 m). Leaf:
Upper surface a glossy light green, with tufts of axillary
tomentum beneath. Autumn Foliage:
Acorns biennial; cup is a glossy dark reddishbrown, inner surface is smooth and light brown, covering 1/3 - 1/2 the nut; bluntly oblong nut,
1/2 - 7/8 inches (13 - 22 mm) in length, smooth with concentric rings at apex. Size Class:
72-100 ft. , More than 100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Native Distribution:
Range extends from Maine west to Michigan, south to Missouri and Mississippi, and east to South Carolina and the eastern Atlantic coast. Native Habitat:
Found in a variety of habitats including poor soils in mixed forests, especially on upland ridges; this oak is probably a climax tree
on dry soils.
USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Shallow infertile soils over sandstone or limestone.
Conditions Comments: This is relatively fast-growing and long-lived oak. It is susceptible to the deadly oak wilt and must not be pruned in wilt-infested areas during the growing season. Quercus coccinea does not develop chlorosis as badly as the similar pin oak, however it is less tolerant of adverse conditions. It is harder to find in the nursery trade than pin or red oak.
Extensively planted as an ornamental tree
because of its brilliant autumn color, and has been introduced into Canada and Europe. The largest known scarlet oak grows in Powell County, Kentucky. Use Wildlife:
Acorns provide food for squirrels, chipmunks, mice, deer, wild turkey, bluejays, and redheaded woodpeckers. Interesting Foliage:
Oaks are most often propagated from seed. No pretreatment is necessary. Plant immediately – outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. Many oaks require cold temperatures to initiate shoot
development. Protect outdoor beds with Seed Collection:
Best quality acorns are picked or shaken from the tree. Collect when color has changed to brown. Best if sown immediately as acorns lose viability quickly in storage. Short-term storage in moist, shaded saw dust or sand. Acorns to be sown immediately can be soaked in hot water for 15 min. to prevent weevil infestation. Stored seed should be fumigated with methyl bromide. Seed Treatment:
Not Available Commercially Avail:
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DEGeorgia Native Plant Society
- Atlanta, GA
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Record Modified: 2011-09-25
Research By: TWC Staff