Red Oak (Quercus rubra)



Red Oak, also known as Quercus rubra, is a type of oak tree that is native to North America. The tree gets its name from the reddish color of its leaves in the fall. Red oak is a popular tree for furniture making due to its strength and durability. The tree can grow to be quite large, with some specimens reaching over 100 feet tall.


What is Red Oak (Quercus rubra)?

The Red Oak is a sturdy and majestic tree that can grow up to 52-72 ft. tall and wide. It thrives in full sun and is easily grown in fertile, dry to medium moisture, acidic, well-drained soils. The Red Oak is adaptable to extremes of soil, but it prefers acid, well-drained sites. This tree is perfect as a specimen plant. However, it may be affected by aphids, oak gall wasps, powdery mildew and oak wilt.

The Red Oak can be propagated by seed, sowing as soon as ripe, in a coldframe or grafting in mid-autumn or early winter. It is also toxic to horses. Native to eastern North America, the Red Oak is a truly stunning tree.

The Red Oak is a handsome, stately, and adaptable specimen tree.


Red Oak (Quercus rubra) Information

Common Name

Red Oak, American Red Oak, Northern Red Oak, Quercus borealis

Botanical name

Quercus rubra


Quercus – Oaks

Plant Type



North America

Mature Height

52′ – 72′

Mature Width

52′ – 72′

The Red Oak tree is an evergreen tree known for its brilliant fall colors. It’s a large deciduous tree that grows rapidly and has an open crown, rounded at the top and broad at the bottom. It is characterized by the broad, glossy dark green leaves, which are adorned with seven to eleven toothed lobes, that turn russet-red in the fall to a brilliant red in the winter.

When the leaves begin to unfold in spring, small yellow-green catkins appear inconspicuously. There is nothing prettier than a spring-flowering tree blooming in a dusty bronze-red color, as well as a spring-flowering bush that puts on a beautiful display of color. Branches and the upper trunk of this tree are adorned with pale gray longitudinal lines, which remind me of ski trails.

The acorns of Red Oak are among the earliest among all the landscape oaks to ripen, making them a valuable source of food for both small mammals and birds. However, it can take Red Oaks as long as 40 years to produce their first crop of acorns. This tree is a good specimen tree for large areas, including urban areas, because of its elegant, stately appearance, versatility, and adaptability.

Plant Features
Known for its vibrant fall color, Quercus rubra (Red Oak) has an open, circular to broad crown.
In the fall, the broad, lustrous dark green leaves turn russet-red to bright red. Spring brings yellow-green catkins.
Its dusty bronze-red foliage creates a stunning effect like spring flowering trees.
Long, pale gray longitudinal lines mark the branches and upper trunk similar to ski trails. Red Oak produces its first crop of acorns 40 years after it blooms, making it one of the first landscape oaks to ripen.
The Red Oak is a handsome, stately, and adaptable specimen tree.

Red Oak Growing and Care Guide

Plant Requirements

USDA Hardiness Zones


Sun Exposure

Full Sun

Water needs

Low, Average



Soil Type

Clay, Loam, Sand

Soil pH

Acid, Neutral

Growing and caring for a Quercus rubra (Red Oak) is not difficult and only requires basic knowledge of plant care. The tree is hardy in zones 5-9 and prefers full sun. It is drought and dry soil tolerant, so water needs are low to average. Maintenance is also low, making it a great choice for those who do not want to spend a lot of time caring for their trees. Red Oaks are showy, so they make a great addition to any landscape.


Companion Plants for Red Oak

Some common companion plants for red oak trees are:

  • American basswood (Tilia americana)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
  • Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
  • Red maple (Acer rubrum)
  • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

These species are all native to North America, and they share similar ecological requirements with red oaks. They are all tolerant of full sun and partial shade, and they prefer well-drained soils. These trees will also all benefit from being planted in groups, as they will provide shelter and support for each other as they grow.


Where to Buy Red Oak and Price list

Red Oak trees can be found for sale at many different nurseries and garden centers. Some of the better-known retailers that sell Red Oak trees include Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart. You can also find them for sale online at sites like and eBay.

Red Oak trees are some of the most popular trees in North America. They are known for their beautiful red leaves and for being very easy to grow. Red Oak trees are also very popular for their wood. The wood of a Red Oak tree is very strong and durable, making it perfect for use in construction and furniture. The price of a Red Oak tree varies depending on its size and location but is typically around $100.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where do red oaks grow best?

It is best for the plant to grow in areas with full sun, but moderate shade is also tolerated by the plant. As long as the soil has a pH range of 4 to 7 in the pH range, then red oak will thrive in most types of acidic soils. It is best to plant loamy soils that are moist and well drained for the best growth. There is, however, a well-known fact about this plant: it is extremely tolerant of clay soils.

Do red oaks have invasive roots?

There is no doubt about it! There is no doubt that the roots of red oaks are invasive, even though the trees themselves aren’t! This giant sends out lateral roots that can span an area 4-7 times its crown in order to anchor itself.

How far from the house should a red oak be planted?

If you want to plant oak trees, you should plant them between 15-30 feet away from your home and any other buildings you might have around your residence. The planting of smaller oak trees should be done at least 15 feet away from the house, whereas the planting of larger oak trees should be done at least 20-30 feet away from your house.

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