Quercus palustris (Pin Oak, Swamp Oak, Water Oak)

Considered a Red Oak (Section Erythrobalanus), Pin Oaks are fast-growing trees that are highly tolerant of urban air quality and other conditions. They are extraordinarily resistant to flooding, especially during winter, due to their shallow root systems. They thrive in lowlands where the soils are heavy (clay), wet or moist, acidic, and often poorly drained.

Quercus palustris (Pin Oak, Swamp Oak, Water Oak)
Deciduous: yes
Hardiness Zones: 4-8
Height: 15-21 meters (50-70 feet) tall, rarely to 30 meters (100 feet) tall
Diameter: canopy 12-18 meters (40-60 feet) wide, trunk to 40 centimeters (16 inches) (based on d.b.h, diameter at breast height)
Growth Rate: Fast, surveyed thirty-year old trees averaged about 20 meters in height.
Age: These may begin producing acorns at 15-20 years old and reach maximum size by age 100. Few trees survive past 130 years old.
Root System: fibrous, shallow, aggressive surface roots potential
Family: Fagaceae
Subspecies: ‘Crown Right’, ‘Sovereign’; hybrids include Quercus x mutabilis, Q. palustris x shumardii, Q. palustris x velutina, Q. palustris x rubra, Q. palustris x coccinea
Tolerates: poorly drained soils, acidic soils, clay soils, flooding (complete inundation of seedlings rarely lethal), urban conditions, transplanting
Problems (major): Chlorosis (iron deficiency) causes leaves to yellow in alkaline soils (even slightly acidic soils in this case, a pH of 6 and higher). This oak is susceptible to oak lace bugs, oak skeletonizer, nut weevils, leaf miner, galls, borers, scale, and caterpillars. Heavy shading is fatal to saplings, and the few that survive grow slowly and frequently die.
Problems (minor): resistant to or tends to avoid common oak ailments (Oak wilt, Chestnut blight), Oak leaf blister, Cankers, Leaf Spot, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Shoestring root rot),susceptible to breakage
Poisonous: causes mild toxicity if the acorns or young leaves are eaten without proper cooking
Soil requirements: prefers acidic, moist (nearly wet) medium/loamy soils
Air requirements: tolerates poor air quality (urban pollution)
Watering requirement: moderate to high
Sun requirement: requires full sun past seedling stages
Leaves: to 15 centimeters (6 inches) long, 5-9 points with deep lobes nearly to the midrib/central vein
Flowers: reddish-green and short female catkins, yellow-green and slender male catkins, wind-pollinated, occur in April
Fruits: acorns, round with saucer-like, flat cap, to 1 centimeter (0.5 inches) around, mature in October during the second year, requires 2 years to fully mature and germinate, requires 4-7 weeks of near freezing conditions for germination, dispersed by squirrels and birds
Bark: gray-brown, smooth, thin, to 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter
Form: pyramidal, upper branches raised, middle branches horizontal, lower branches drooping
Seeds require stratification: yes, must have two separate dormancy periods in order to germinate
Monoecious or Dioecious: monoecious
Monocot/Dicot: dicot

Notable characteristics:
This oak is highly tolerant of flooding, especially during the dormant season. Inundation of seedlings for short periods in the summer is not typically fatal. The fruits, acorns, require 2 years to fully mature. This tree is relatively short-lived but grows rapidly.

Pin Oaks are commonly grown in suburbs or cities for their resistances to urban pollution, other city conditions, most pests. most diseases, and heavy flooding.

Sources used:

Lobed Pin Oak foliage

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


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