Red Oak

Kurt Elieson

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First Class requirement #6: Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of native plants found in your community.

Red oak baby leaves come out a deep red color and then turn green after a couple days of sunshine. If we have a long cool fall, then the tree will slowly suck the sugars out of the leaves and down into the roots, making the leaves again turn red for a few weeks. But a quick change from summer to winter just makes the leaves go straight to a dead tan color. A red oak's dead brown leaves stay on all winter long until spring.

Like most other oaks, red oak leaves have a wobbly shape. But on red oaks it looks like the round wobbles have been bitten out by really big grasshoppers, leaving pointed corners behind. Red oak bark is a much lighter gray than most other oaks that grow around Dallas-Fort Worth. Red oak branches tend to grow long and curve gently upward; they are not as gnarly and twisty as post oaks, live oaks and cedar elms.

Red oaks produce acorns in the fall. You will often see blisters on the leaves and twigs of red oaks (and live oaks). These are caused by galls, small insects that sting the tree to lay their eggs. This does not damage the tree.

Red oaks are one of the more common trees you will see in the median of the road as you drive around town. Look for red oaks in the median with their bitten-out shaped leaves and you will quickly learn to recognize them.

Click on the pictures to see them up close.

Page last updated 2011.11.07