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Quercus palustris (Pin oak)
Makin, Julie

Quercus palustris

Quercus palustris Münchh.

Pin Oak, Swamp Spanish Oak

Fagaceae (Beech Family)


USDA Symbol: QUPA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Straight-trunked tree with spreading to horizontal branches, very slender pinlike twigs, and a broadly conical crown. Pin oak is a stongly pyramidal tree with a distinct central leader, growing 60-70 ft. or taller. Instead of the gnarled, massive qualities of most oaks, pin oak has a more graceful, slender appearance. Old trees become high-crowned after shedding lower limbs. Dark-green foliage becomes dark-red in fall. Leaves persist into winter.

Named for the many short side twigs or pinlike spurs. A popular, graceful lawn tree with regular compact form and fine-textured foliage, Pin Oak is hardy and easily transplanted because the shallow fibrous root system lacks tap roots.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 75 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

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


USA: AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NE , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: GA to OK, n. to MA, s. Ont., s. MI, IL, IA & e. KS
Native Habitat: Wet woods; bottomlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Heavy, poorly drained soils.
Conditions Comments: One of the faster growing oaks. Tolerates wet feet. Intolerant of alkaline soils. Susceptible to iron chlorosis which causes yellow coloration in the leaves through the summer months and can eventually kill the tree. Somewhat tolerant of city conditions. Pin oak is shallow-rooted and easily transplanted, and it will tolerate urban conditions in areas well outside its natural range (Kershaw).


Use Wildlife: Attracts songbirds, water birds, ground birds and mammals.
Use Other: Black ink can be made from galls formed by insects by steeping the galls in a small amount of water with some iron filings. (Hosie)
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Gray Hairstreak

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Gray Hairstreak
(Strymon melinus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Oaks are most often propagated from seed. Plant outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. Many oaks require cold temperatures to initiate shoot development. Protect outdoor beds with wire mesh to deter rodent predation.
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: Stratify at 32-41 degrees for 30-45 days.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1258 - Trees of Ontario (2007) Kershaw, Linda

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Quercus palustris in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quercus palustris in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quercus palustris


Record Modified: 2015-09-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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