Oak, Red

Oak, RedOak, Red — The Northern Red Oak or Champion Oak, Quercus rubra (syn. Quercus borealis), is an oak in the red oak group (Quercus section Lobatae). It is a native of North America, in the northeastern United States and southeast Canada. It grows from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia, south as far as Georgia and states with good soil that is slightly acidic. Often simply called “Red Oak”, northern red oak is formally so named to distinguish it from southern red oak (Q. falcata), also known as the Spanish oak.

In forests, the northern red oak grows straight and tall, to 35 m (115 ft), exceptionally to 43 m (141 ft) tall, with a trunk of up to 1 m diameter; open-grown trees do not get so tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 2 m (6.6 ft) in diameter. Has stout branches growing at right angles to the stem, forming a narrow round-topped head. It grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations although prefers the glacial drift and well-drained borders of streams.

Northern red oak is easy to recognize by its bark, which features bark ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the center. A few other oaks have bark with this kind of appearance in the upper tree, but the northern red oak is the only tree with the striping all the way down the trunk.

The northern red oak is one of the most important oaks for timber production in North America.The wood is of high value. Other related oaks are also cut and marketed as Red Oak, although their wood is not always of as high a quality. These include black oak, scarlet oak, pin oak, shumard oak, southern red oak and other species in the red oak group.

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