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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Northern Red Oak

Northern Red Oak

(Quercus rubra L.)


Northern red oak is found throughout the Piedmont and mountain areas of the state. It is most common and of best quality in fertile mountain coves, with better growth on the north and cast slopes. Red oak grows best on most well-drained loams in association with other oaks, basswood, white ash and black cherry.

Its leaves are 5 to 8 inches long and have seven to 11 lobes. Each lobe usually is three-toothed, sharply pointed and has bristles on the points. Northern red oak leaves are deciduous, turning red before they fall in autumn.

The bark on young stems is smooth and gray; on older trees, it is thick and broken by shallow fissures into regular, flat, smooth surfaced plates or flat ridges.

The tree averages 70 to 90 feet in height and 2 to 3 feet in diameter. The acorns usually are 1/2 to 1 inch long with a flat, shallow cup at the base. The crown of the tree usually is rounded and comparatively narrow.

The wood is hard, strong, coarse-grained, with light reddish brown heartwood and thin light-colored sapwood. Northern red oak is one of our most valuable hardwood trees. Its wood is used for interior finish, construction, furniture, flooring and crossties.

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