Common Oak Varieties In The Northern US And Canada

Posted on: 4 February 2015

Known for their tall, majestic stature, oak trees are common throughout North America. There are many different species of oaks, each with its own characteristics. Knowing what type of oak tree you have will help you know what to expect as your tree continues to grow and mature. Here's a look at the most common varieties of oak trees found in the northern United States and Canada. Look over these descriptions to identify the oak trees in your yard.

Chestnut Oak

This variety of oak tree can reach 80 feet in height when mature. It's easiest to identify by examining its bark and leaves. The bark of chestnut oak trees features deep furrows that resemble alligator scales. Its leaves are about 4–6 inches long and feature shorter points than most oak leaves. These points are rounded and there may be as many as 16 on one side of the leaf. Acorns of the chestnut oak are about 1 ½ inches long and separate easily from their caps when mature. Chestnut oaks tend to be very tall and narrow, so if you have a young one on your property, you don't have to worry about it spreading out too much as it matures.

Bur Oak

In rich soil, bur oaks can reach more than 100 feet in height. The leaves are about 6 inches long and have a fiddle-like shape with large, slightly-rounded lobes.  The bark of the bur oak tends to be thick and rough, with uneven furrows and scales of varying size. Acorns are stubby with large caps, and are only produced in large quantities every 2–3 years. Bur oaks are known for their wide canopies and are great for providing shade. They are incredibly drought tolerant, so even when a lack of rain threatens your other plants, you can expect a bur oak to thrive.

Northern Red Oak

Northern oaks are named for their reddish wood, but they also have leaves that turn bright red in the fall. Other varieties of oaks found in the north tend to turn yellow, orange or brown. This is another tall oak variety that can be up to 98 feet tall when mature. Its leaves feature multiple lobes, each of which ends in a distinct point. The bark of northern red oak trees features long, yet shallow furrows and is not as scaly as that of other oak varieties. These trees grow narrow and straight, meaning that they can be planted closer together than other oak types. Northern red oaks are particularly susceptible to oak wilt, a deadly infection that kills oak trees within a year of exposure. To prevent the spread of oak wilt, it's important not to bring firewood onto your property if you have a northern red oak.

Which type of oak tree do you have in your yard? Whether you have a broad bur oak, a tall and stately chestnut oak, or a brilliantly colored northern red oak, make sure you enjoy its beauty. Having trees of any type in your yard adds to the ambiance and can make you feel closer to nature. Talk to a professional like Darrel Emel's Tree Service for more information.

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