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Overview

Brief Summary

Fagaceae Beech family

    Ivan L. Sander

    Northern red oak (Quercus rubra), also known as common red  oak, eastern red oak, mountain red oak, and gray oak, is  widespread in the East and grows on a variety of soils and  topography, often forming pure stands. Moderate to fast growing,  this tree is one of the more important lumber species of red oak  and is an easily transplanted, popular shade tree with good form  and dense foliage.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Description

General: Beech Family (Fagaceae). Native trees often reaching 20–30 m tall, less commonly up to 50 m; bark dark gray or black, shallowly furrowed into broad hard scaly ridges, inner bark reddish to pink; generally developing a strong taproot and network of deep, spreading laterals. Leaves are deciduous, alternate, elliptic, 10–25 cm long and 8–15 cm wide, divided less than halfway to midvein into 7–11 shallow wavy lobes with a few irregular bristle-tipped teeth, sinuses usually extending less than 1/2 distance to midrib, glabrous and dull green above, light dull green below with tufts of hairs in vein angles. Male and female flowers are borne in separate catkins on the same tree (the species monoecious), the staminate catkins in leaf axils of the previous year's growth, the pistillate in 2–many-flowered spikes in the leaf axils. Acorns maturing in the second year, about 15–30 mm long, with a broad usually shallow cup, borne singly or in clusters of 2–5. The common name is in reference to the red fall foliage color, red petioles, and reddish interior wood. This is a different species from “southern red oak” (Q. falcata).

Northern red oak is a member of the red oak subgroup (subg. Erythrobalanus = sect. Lobatae). It hybridizes with related species, including scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), northern pin oak (Q. ellipsoidalis), shingle oak (Q. imbricata), scrub oak (Q. ilicifolia), blackjack oak (Q. marilandica), swamp oak (Q. palustris), willow oak (Q. phellos), Shumard oak (Q. shumardii), and black oak (Q. velutina).

Variation within the species: There are different interpretations of variation patterns among trees of northern red oak. A single species without formally variants is sometimes recognized, or two varieties may be recognized.

Quercus rubra var. ambigua (A. Gray) Fernald

SY= Q. borealis Michx. f.

SY= Q. rubra var. borealis (Michx. f.) Farw.

Quercus rubra var. rubra

SY= Q. maxima (Marsh.) Ashe

SY= Q. borealis var. maxima (Marsh.) Ashe

Var. rubra has a shallow cup, to 3 cm wide, enclosing 1/4–1/5 of the nut. Var. ambigua has a deeper cup, to 2 cm wide, enclosing 1/3 of the nut. McDougal and Parks (1984, 1986) found evidence of correspondence between morphological types and flavonoid chemotypes but the evolutionary status and geographic distribution of these have not been worked out in detail.

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Comprehensive Description

Comments

This large and stately tree is justifiably popular among members of the public. It is among the largest oak trees and requires plenty of room. Among species in the Red Oak group, Northern Red Oak can be distinguished by its leaves, which are less deeply lobed than many other members of this group, and by its large acorns with shallow cups. When its leaves are exposed to the sun, its petioles are often reddish, while the petioles of other oaks are typically light green or yellowish green. Some authorities recognize a variety of Northern Red Oak, Quercus rubra borealis, that has acorns with deeper cups (extending to about one-third the length of each acorn). The wood of Northern Red Oak is hard, heavy and strong, but it is less durable in the presence of moisture than the wood of White Oak (Quercus alba). Furniture, cabinets, veneer, flooring, fence posts, caskets, and pulp for paper are made from its wood; Northern Red Oak also provides excellent fire wood.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Alternative names

Red oak, common red oak, eastern red oak, mountain red oak, gray oak

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center and the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Northern Red Oak is a common tree that is probably found in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland woodlands, drier areas of floodplain woodlands, north- and east-facing wooded slopes, sandy woodlands, typical savannas and sandy savannas, edges of limestone glades, wooded bluffs, and high riverbanks. Northern Red Oak is occasionally a dominant or codominant tree, but it often replaced by Sugar Maple and other trees that are more shade-tolerant. This oak is often cultivated as a landscape tree. Large trees have some resistance to wildfire, while smaller trees are usually top-killed. However, the latter sometimes resprout from their roots.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  IA  KS
     KY  LA  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  NE
     NH  NJ  NY  NC  OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN
     VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  NB  NS  ON  PE  PQ

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Northern red oak is widely distributed throughout much of the eastern
United States and southeastern Canada.  It grows from Quebec, Ontario,
Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick southward to southwestern Georgia and
Alabama [39,101].  Northern red oak extends westward through Minnesota
and Iowa, south through eastern Nebraska and Kansas to eastern Oklahoma
[101].  It occurs locally in eastern and southwestern Louisiana and
western Mississippi [39,69].

The variety rubra grows in Georgia and Alabama, northward through
Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia to New England [93,104].  The
variety borealis occurs farther north than variety rubra does [30].
Variety borealis occurs in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina in
the South and extends northward throughout New England to Maine
[39,104].
  • 39. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 93. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 30. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 69. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]
  • 104. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]

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Northern red oak is the only native oak extending northeast to  Nova Scotia. It grows from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia,  Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and the Gaspé  Peninsula of Quebec, to Ontario, in Canada; from Minnesota South  to eastern Nebraska and Oklahoma; east to Arkansas, southern  Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Outliers are found in  Louisiana and Mississippi (17).

   
  -The native range of northern red oak.


  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Northern red oak is widely distributed throughout much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. It grows from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick southward to southwestern Georgia, Alabama, northern Mississippi, northern Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma. Northern red oak extends westward through Minnesota and Iowa, south through eastern Nebraska and Kansas to eastern Oklahoma. It occurs locally in eastern and southwestern Louisiana and western Mississippi. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center and the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: monoecious, tree

Northern red oak is a medium to large, variable deciduous tree [39,47].
It is the tallest and most rapidly growing of the oaks [20] and commonly
reaches 65 to 98 feet (20-30 m) in height and 2 to 3 feet (61-91 m) in
diameter [101].  On extremely favorable sites plants may grow to 160
feet (49 m) and up to 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter [24].  Trees are tall,
straight, and columnar with a large crown in forested stands but are
characterized by a short bole and spreading crown in openings [101].
Plants generally have a strongly developed taproot and a network of
deep, spreading laterals [47,56].  The gray to grayish-brown bark has
shallow vertical furrows and low ridges and becomes checkered with age
[39].

Northern red oak is monoecious.  Staminate catkins are borne in leaf
axils of the previous year's growth, whereas pistillate catkins occur in
two- to many-flowered spikes in the axils of leaves [101].  The acorns
are approximately 0.8 to 1.3 inch (20-33 mm) in length, with a shallow,
saucer-shaped cup [26,39,47].  Acorns are borne singly or in clusters of
two to five [101].  The nut contains a large, white, bitter kernel [20].

The variety borealis is characterized by smaller acorn cups [93].
  • 39. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 93. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 20. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 24. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 26. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 47. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 56. Kelty, Matthew J. 1989. Productivity of New England Hemlock/ hardwood stands as affected by species composition and canopy structure. Forest Ecology and Management. 28: 237-257. [8663]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]

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Description

Trees , deciduous, to 30 m. Bark gray or dark gray, ridges wide, shiny, separated by shallow fissures, inner bark pinkish. Twigs reddish brown, 2-3.5(-4.5) mm diam., glabrous. Terminal buds dark reddish brown, ovoid to ellipsoid, 4-7 mm, glabrous or with tuft of reddish hairs at apex. Leaves: petiole 25-50 mm, glabrous, often red tinged. Leaf blade ovate to elliptic or obovate, 120-200 × 60-120 mm, base broadly cuneate to almost truncate, margins with 7-11 lobes and 12-50 awns, lobes oblong, occasionally distally expanded, separated by shallow sinuses, sinuses usually extending less than 1/2 distance to midrib, apex acute; surfaces abaxially pale green, often glaucous, glabrous except for minute axillary tufts of tomentum, adaxially dull green, glabrous, secondary veins raised on both surfaces. Acorns biennial; cup saucer- to cup-shaped, 5-12 mm high × 18-30 mm wide, covering 1/4-1/3 nut, outer surface puberulent, inner surface light brown to red-brown, glabrous or with ring of pubescence around scar, scales less than 4 mm, often with dark margins, tips tightly appressed, obtuse; nut ovoid to oblong, 15-30 × 10-21 mm, glabrous, scar diam. 6.5-12.5 mm. 2 n = 24.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Quercus borealis Michaux; Q. maxima Ashe
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Northern Red Oak is a common tree that is probably found in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland woodlands, drier areas of floodplain woodlands, north- and east-facing wooded slopes, sandy woodlands, typical savannas and sandy savannas, edges of limestone glades, wooded bluffs, and high riverbanks. Northern Red Oak is occasionally a dominant or codominant tree, but it often replaced by Sugar Maple and other trees that are more shade-tolerant. This oak is often cultivated as a landscape tree. Large trees have some resistance to wildfire, while smaller trees are usually top-killed. However, the latter sometimes resprout from their roots.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: mesic, shrubs, vines

Northern red oak grows on a variety of dry-mesic to mesic sites [3].  It
occurs in rich, mesic woods, on sandy plains, rock outcrops, stable
interdunes, and at the outer edges of floodplains [29,124,126].
Northern red oak is most common on north- and east-facing slopes
[30,101].  It typically grows on lower and middle slopes, in coves,
ravines, and on valley floors [101].

Plant associates:  Overstory associates of northern red oak are numerous
and include white oak (Quercus alba), black oak, scarlet oak, southern
red oak, post oak (Q. stellata), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus),
American beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple, red maple (Acer
rubrum), black cherry (Prunus serotina), American basswood (Tilia
americana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), white ash (Fraxinus
americana), green ash (F. pennsylvanica), aspen (Populus tremuloides),
hickories (Carya spp.), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), black walnut
(Juglans nigra), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), eastern hemlock (Tsuga
canadensis), and elm (Ulmus spp.) [12,76,82,101].  Flowering dogwood
(Cornus florida), holly (Ilex spp.), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya
virginiana), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), American bladdernut
(Staphylea trifolia), redbud (Cercis canadensis), persimmon (Diospyros
virginiana), and serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) are frequent small tree
associates [101].  Common understory shrubs and vines include greenbrier
(Smilax spp.), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), mountain-laurel (Kalmia
spp.), leatherwood (Dirca palustris), witch-hazel (Hamamelis
virginiana), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), spice bush (Lindera
benzoin), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), grape (Vitis spp.), and
rosebay rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) [101].  Numerous herbaceous
species occur with northern red oak.

Climate:  Annual precipitation averages 30 inches (76 cm) at the
northwestern edge of northern red oak's range and 80 inches (203 cm) in
the southern Appalachians [101].  Mean annual temperatures range from 40
degrees F (4 deg C) in the North to 60 degrees F (16 deg C) in the South
[24].  Growing season length varies from 100 to 220 days.  Northern red
oak reaches its best development in the Ohio Valley and along the west
slope of the Allegheny Mountains where precipitation averages 40 inches
(102 cm) annually and average annual temperature is 52 degrees F (11
degrees C) [101].

Soils:  Northern red oak grows on clay, loam, and sandy or gravelly
soils [20,101].  Soils may be deep and free of rocks, or shallow and
rocky [33].  Plants generally exhibit best growth on deep, fertile,
well-drained, finely textured soils with a relatively high water table
[26,39,101].  Soils are derived from a variety of parent materials
including glacial outwash, sandstone, shale, limestone, gneiss, schist,
or granite [101].

Elevation:  Northern red oak grows at relatively low elevations in the
Smoky Mountains.  The variety rubra typically grows at lower elevations
than does the variety borealis [129].  Generalized elevations ranges by
geographic location are as follows [73,101,113]:

        Location          Elevation                          

        s Appalachians    up to 5,500 feet (1,680 m)          
        White Mtns. NH    up to 1,476 feet (450 m)            
        IN                700 to 850 feet (214-259 m)        
        MO                800 to 1,300 feet (244-397 m)       
        MI                600 to 700 feet (182-214 m)        
        NY                900 to 1,400 feet (275-427 m)      
        NC                2,300 to 5,000 feet (702-1,525 m)   
        WV                1,800 to 3,500 feet (549-1,070 m)   
        WI                800 to 1,000 feet (244-305 m)      
  • 39. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 129. Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79. [11108]
  • 3. Archambault, Louis; Barnes, Burton V.; Witter, John A. 1990. Landscape ecosystems of disturbed oak forests of southeastern Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 20: 1570-1582. [13448]
  • 12. Braun, E. Lucy. 1942. Forests of the Cumberland Mountains. Ecological Monographs. 12(4): 413-447. [9258]
  • 20. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 24. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 26. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 29. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 30. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 33. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 76. Millers, Imants; Shriner, David S.; Rizzo, David. 1989. History of hardwood decline in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-126. Bromall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 75 p. [10925]
  • 82. Nichols, G. E. 1935. The hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood region of eastern North America. Ecology. 16(3): 403-422. [8867]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]
  • 113. Spear, Ray W. 1989. Late-Quaternary history of high-elevation vegetation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Ecological Monographs. 59(2): 125-151. [9662]
  • 124. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 126. Weaver, J. E. 1960. Flood plain vegetation of the central Missouri Valley and contacts of woodland with prairie. Ecological Monographs. 30(1): 37-64. [275]
  • 73. Maeglin, R. R. 1974. The effect of site quality and growth rate on the anatomy and utilization potential of northern red oak. In: Proceedings of the second annual hardwood symposium; 1974 May 2 - May 4; [Location of conference unknown]. [Place of publication unknown]. Hardwood Research Council: 191-205. [10589]

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Key Plant Community Associations

Northern red oak occurs as a dominant in many communities [77],
including mixed mesophytic forests, pine-oak communities, and southern
bottomland forests [12,110].

Publications listing northern red oak as an indicator or dominant in
habitat type (hts) classifications are presented below:

Area              Classification                Authority
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
n MI, ne WI       general veg. hts              Coffman and others 1980
n WI              general veg. hts              Kotar and others 1988
  • 12. Braun, E. Lucy. 1942. Forests of the Cumberland Mountains. Ecological Monographs. 12(4): 413-447. [9258]
  • 77. Monk, Carl D. 1965. Southern mixed hardwood forest of northcentral Florida. Ecological Monographs. 35: 335-354. [9263]
  • 110. Smith, David W.; Suffling, R.; Stevens, Denis; Dai, Tony S. 1975. Plant community age as a measure of sensitivity of ecosystems to disturbance. Journal of Environmental Management. 3: 271-285. [10050]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

     1  Jack pine
    14  Northern pin oak
    15  Red pine
    17  Pin cherry
    18  Paper birch
    19  Gray birch - red maple
    20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    22  White pine - hemlock
    23  Eastern hemlock
    25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    26  Sugar maple - basswood
    27  Sugar maple
    28  Black cherry - maple
    29  Black cherry
    40  Post oak - blackjack oak
    42  Bur oak
    43  Bear oak
    44  Chestnut oak
    45  Pitch pine
    46  Eastern redcedar
    51  White pine - chestnut oak
    52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak
    53  White oak
    55  Northern red oak
    57  Yellow poplar
    58  Yellow poplar - eastern hemlock
    59  Yellow poplar - white oak - northern red oak
    60  Beech - sugar maple
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
   108  Red maple
   110  Black oak

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K099  Maple - basswood
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K102  Beech - maple
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
   K111  Oak - hickory pine forest

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Soils and Topography

In the north, northern red oak grows on cool moist Boralf and  Orthod Spodosols. Elsewhere it grows on warm, moist soils  including Udalf Alfisols, Dystrochrept and Fragiochrept  Inceptisols, Udoll Mollisols, Rhodic Paleudult, Humic and Mesic  Hapludult Udult Ultisols, and small areas of Udipsamment  Entisols. The most widespread soils are the Udalfs and Udolls  (33).

    These soils are derived from glacial material, residual  sandstones, shale, limestone, gneisses, schists, and granites.  They vary from clay to loamy sands and some have a high content  of rock fragments. Northern red oak grows best on deep,  welldrained loam to silty, clay loam soils (24).

    Although northern red oak is found in all topographic positions,  it always grows best on lower and middle slopes with northerly or  easterly aspects, in coves and deep ravines, and on well-drained  valley floors. It grows at elevations up to 1070 m (3,500 ft) in  West Virginia and up to 1680 m (5,500 ft) in the southern  Appalachians (24).

    The most important factors determining site quality for northern  red oak are depth and texture of the A soil horizon, aspect, and  slope position and shape. The best sites are found on lower,  concave slopes with a northerly or easterly aspect, on soils with  a thick A horizon, and a loam to silt loam texture. Other factors  may affect site quality in localized areas such as depth to water  table in southern Michigan and annual precipitation up to 1120 mm  (44 in) in northwestern West Virginia (2,24).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

In the wide area over which northern red oak grows, mean annual  precipitation varies from about 760 mm (30 in) in the Northwest  to about 2030 mm (80 in) in the southern Appalachians. Annual  snowfall ranges from a trace in southern Alabama to 254 cm (100  in) or more in the Northern States and Canada. Mean annual  temperature is about 4° C (40° F) in the northern part  of the range and 16° C (60° F) in the extreme southern  part. The frost-free period averages 100 days in the North and  220 days in the South (24).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Commonly on mesic slopes and well-drained uplands, occasionally on dry slopes or poorly drained uplands; 0-1800m.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Dispersal

Establishment

Adaptation: Northern red oak commonly grows on mesic slopes and well-drained uplands, less commonly on dry slopes or poorly drained uplands, at (0-) 150–1800 meters in elevation. It typically grows on lower and middle slopes, in coves, ravines, and on valley floors, most commonly on N- and E-facing slopes and on clay, loam, and sandy or gravelly soils. Best growth is in full sun and well drained, slightly acidic, sandy loam. It occurs as a dominant in many natural communities, including mixed mesophytic and pine-oak.

Northern red oak is intermediate in shade tolerance but generally unable to establish beneath its own canopy. Seedlings usually do not reach sapling or pole size unless gaps are created in the canopy. Northern red oak is often replaced by more shade-tolerant species such as sugar maple and American basswood.

Flowering occurs in April–May, during or before leaf development, while fruiting (August–) September–October.

General: Northern red oak generally first bears fruit at about 20–25 years, although most trees do not produce acorns in abundance until 40–50 years. Good crops are produced every 2–5 years. In most years, birds, mammals, and insects commonly destroy up to 80% of the crop and nearly the entire crop can be eliminated in poor years. Seeds on the soil surface are particularly vulnerable to rodent predation, and germination frequencies are much higher when a layer of leaf litter covers acorns. Under natural conditions, acorns generally germinate in the spring after over-wintering breaks dormancy.

Germination and seedling establishment may be successful in full and partial shade, but early growth is reduced by shade, poor soil, and competing herbaceous vegetation. Seedlings in mature stands may be present in large number, but few survive more than a few years or grow to more than 15–20 cm in height. Under optimal conditions, northern red oak is fast growing and trees may live up to 500 years.

Seedlings, saplings, and small poles of northern red oak can sprout if cut or burned. Although young oaks typically stump sprout readily, older and larger individuals also may sprout.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center and the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Faunal Associations

The foliage of Northern Red Oak and other oaks is eaten by the caterpillars of several Hairstreak butterflies (Satyrium spp. & others), caterpillars of the skippers Erynnis juvenalis (Juvenal's Duskywing) and Erynnis brizo (Sleepy Duskywing), and the caterpillars of many moths (see Moth Table); moth species that feed on Northern Red Oak include Anisota senatoria (Orange-Striped Oakworm), Catocala ilia (Ilia Underwing), and Ulolonche culea (Sheathed Quaker). Galls are formed by the larvae of Amphibolips confluenta (Large Oak Apple Gall Wasp) and Andricus palustris (Succulent Oak Gall Wasp). The larvae of some beetles bore through the wood of  these trees; this includes Arrhenodes minutus (Oak Timberworm), Enaphalodes rufulus (Red Oak Borer), Goes debilis (Oak Branch Pruner), and many others (see Wood-Boring Beetle Table). The leaf beetles Metachroma laevicolle and Xanthonia striata feed on the foliage, while larvae of the acorn weevils Curculio nasicus and Curculio sulcatulus eat the meat of acorns. A variety of small insects have been observed to feed on Northern Red Oak
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Foodplant / saprobe
pulvinate, erumpent or superficial stroma of Daldinia fissa is saprobic on wood of Quercus rubra

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Marasmius quercophilus is saprobic on dead, fallen, decayed leaf of Quercus rubra
Other: minor host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
becoming erumpent through longitudinal slits pycnidium of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Phomopsis quercella is saprobic on dead twig of Quercus rubra
Remarks: season: 12

Foodplant / spot causer
hypophyllous ascoma of Taphrina caerulescens causes spots on live, blistered leaf of Quercus rubra

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Associated Forest Cover

Northern Red Oak (Society of American Foresters Type 55) is the  forest cover type that includes pure stands of this tree or  stands in which it is predominant (6). The species is a major  component of White Pine-Northern Red Oak-Red Maple (Type 20) in  the Northern Forest Region, and it is a principal species in  White Oak-Black Oak-Northern Red Oak (Type 52) in the Central  Forest Region. Northern red oak is listed as an associated  species in the following forest types:

    17 Pin Cherry
  18 Paper Birch
  19 Gray Birch-Red Maple
  21 Eastern White Pine
  22 White Pine-Hemlock
  23 Eastern Hemlock
  25 Sugar Maple-Beech-Yellow Birch
  26 Sugar Maple-Basswood
  27 Sugar Maple
  28 Black Cherry-Maple
  40 Post Oak-Blackjack
  42 Bur Oak
  43 Bear Oak
  44 Chestnut Oak
  45 Pitch Pine
  46 Eastern Redcedar
  51 White Pine-Chestnut Oak
  53 White Oak
  57 Yellow-Poplar
  58 Yellow-Poplar-Eastern Hemlock
  60 Beech-Sugar Maple
  82 Loblolly Pine-Hardwood
  108 Red Maple
  110 Black Oak

    Numerous other tree species are associated with northern red oak.  These include white ash (Fraxinus americana) and green  ash (F. pennsylvanica); bigtooth aspen (Populus  grandidentata) and quaking aspen (P. tremuloides); American  elm (Ulmus americana) and slippery elm (U. rubra);  pignut hickory (Carya glabra), bitternut hickory (C.  cordiformis), mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), and  shagbark hickory (C. ovata); scarlet oak (Quercus  coccinea), southern red oak (Q. falcata), post  oak (Q. stellata), and chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii);  northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis); yellow  buckeye (Aesculus octandra); cucumber magnolia (Magnolia  acuminata); hackberry (Celtis occidentalis); butternut  (Juglans cinerea); black walnut (J. nigra); blackgum  (Nyssa sylvatica); and sweetgum (Liquidambar  styraciflua) (5).

    Some of the more important small trees associated with northern  red oak include flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), sourwood  (Oxydendrum arboreum), American holly (Ilex opaca),  eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), American  hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), redbud (Cercis  canadensis), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), sassafras (Sassafras  albidum), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), American  bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), and downy serviceberry  (Amelanchier arborea). Shrubs common in forest stands  containing northern red oak include Vaccinium spp.,  mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), rosebay rhododendron  (Rhododendron maximum), witch-hazel (Hamamelis  virginiana), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), spice  bush (Lindera benzoin), and Viburnum spp. The  most common vines are Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus  quinquefolia), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), greenbrier  (Smilax spp.), and grape (Vitis spp.)  (5).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Wildfires seriously damage northern red  oak by killing the cambial tissue at the base of trees, thus  creating an entry point for decay-causing fungi. Wildfires can be  severe enough to top kill even pole- and sawtimber-size trees.  Many of the top-killed trees sprout and thus create new evenaged  stands, but the economic loss of the old stand may be great (24).  Small northern red oak seedlings may be killed by prescribed  fires (13), but larger stems will sprout and survive, even if  their tops are killed.

    Oak wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum) is a potentially  serious vascular disease of northern red oak and kills trees the  same year they are infected. It usually kills individuals or  small groups of trees in scattered locations throughout a stand  but may affect areas up to several hectares in size. Oak wilt is  spread from tree to tree through root grafts and over longer  distances by sap-feeding beetles (Nitidulidae) and the  small oak bark beetles (Pseudopityophthorus spp.) (12,23).

    Shoestring root rot (Armillaria mellea) attacks and may  kill northern red oaks that have been injured or weakened by  fire, lightning, drought, insects, or other diseases. Cankers  caused by Strumella and Nectria species damage  the bole of northern red oak and although trees are seldom  killed, the infected trees are generally culls for lumber.  Foliage diseases that attack northern red oak but seldom do  serious damage are anthracnose (Gnomonia quercina), leaf  blister (Taphrina spp.), powdery mildews (Phyllactinia  corylea and Microsphaera alni), and eastern gall rust  (Cronartium quercuum) (12).

    The carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae), Columbian  timber beetle (Corythylus columbianus), oak timberworm  (Arrhenodes minutus), red oak borer (Enaphalodes  rufulus), and the twolined chestnut borer (Agrilus  bilineatus) are important insects that attack the bole of  northern red oak. These insects tunnel into the wood, seriously  degrading products cut from infested trees (3).

    The most destructive defoliating insect attacking northern red oak  is the imported gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar). This  insect repeatedly defoliates trees and has killed oaks including  northern red oak in a wide area in the northeastern United  States. Northern red oak can recover from a single defoliation  but may be weakened enough for some disease or other insects to  attack and kill them. Other defoliators, that attack northern red  oak are the variable oakleaf caterpillar (Heterocampa  manteo), the orangestriped oakworm (Anisota senatoria),  and the browntail moth (Nygmia phaeorrhoea). The  Asiatic oak weevil (Cyrtepistomus castaneus) attacks  northern red oak seedlings and has the potential to seriously  affect seedling growth because the larvae feed on the fine roots  while the adults feed on the foliage.

    Much damage is done to northern red oak acorns by the nut weevils  (Curculio spp.), gall-forming cynipids (Callirhytis  spp.), the filbertworm (Melissopus latiferreanus), and  the acorn moth (Valentinia glandulella) (7). In years of  poor acorn production, these insects can destroy the entire crop.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Fire Management Implications

More info for the term: competition

With 7,000 seedlings per acre (17,290/ha), a 50 to 60 percent reduction
in northern red oak seedling numbers may be acceptable as long as
competing vegetation is reduced.  However, this spring fire had little
effect on competing vegetation.  Study results suggest that a single,
low-severity spring burn may harm northern red oak seedlings where
postburn competition is intense.  More research is needed to determine
conditions under which prescribed burns might control competing
vegetation and favor northern red oak reproduction.

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Site Description

      Slope:  10 to 35 percent.
      Aspect:  north to east.
      Site index for northern red oak:  70.

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fire exclusion, prescribed fire, series

Prescribed fire:  Prescribed fire can be an important tool for
regenerating oak stands.  However, results do not always favor oak.
Crow [25] reported that "although there is abundant evidence of a
general relationship between fire and the occurrence of oak, prescribed
burning is not yet a viable silvicultural tool for regenerating oak
stands."  Most oaks sprout vigorously after fire, and competing
vegetation can be much reduced [43].  However, a single low-intensity
fire may have little impact on competing vegetation [25].  According to
Crow [25], a "commitment to frequent burning is needed to compensate for
decades of fire exclusion."  In the southern Appalachians, biennial
summer burns are usually most effective in promoting advance
regeneration.  Single pre- or post-harvest burns generally have
little effect [121].

Timber harvest and fire:  Fire can be used to control competing
herbaceous vegetation after timber harvest [18].  A series of cool or
low-severity prescribed fires prior to timber harvest can promote
advanced regeneration in oaks [121].

Fuels and flammability:  Wydeven and Kloes [131] reported that a "fairly
cool" fire in an uncut northern red oak stand produced flame lengths of
1 to 1.8 feet (0.3-0.56 m).  A "very hot" fire in a cut stand generated
flames 1.6 to 20 feet (0.5-6.0 m) high.
  • 18. Cann, John G.; Gordon, Andrew M.; Williams, Peter A. 1990. Prescribed burning to enhance growth of underplanted northern red oak seedlings after shelterwood cutting: effect of burn intensity. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 24. Abstract. [13151]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 43. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 121. Van Lear, David H.; Waldrop, Thomas A. 1989. History, uses, and effects of fire in the Appalachians. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-54. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 20 p. [10126]
  • 131. Wydeven, Adrian P.; Kloes, Glenn G. 1989. Canopy reduction, fire influence oak regeneration (Wisconsin). Restoration & Management Notes. 7(2): 87-88. [11413]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: prescribed fire, tree

Seedlings, saplings, and pole-sized individuals commonly sprout if girdled by fire.  Damaged seedlings can often sprout several times and may ultimately grow beyond the fire-susceptible stage [43].  Sprouting ability appears to decrease as plants age.  Large trees much less likely to sprout if severely damaged by fire. On the George Washington National Forest, West Virginia, a spring prescribed fire promoted northern red oak seedling establishment but reduced northern red oak sprouts in a mixed-hardwood forest. Average red oak seedling densities before fire and in postfire year 5 were 0 and 26 seedlings/acre, respectively; northern red oak sprout densities were 658 sprouts/acre before and 0 sprouts/acre 5 years after the fire. See the Research Paper of Wendel and Smith's [135] study for details on the fire prescription and fire effects on northern red oak and 6 other tree species.

For further information on red oak response to fire, see Fire Case Studies. The Research Project Summaries Effects of surface fires in a mixed red and eastern white pine stand in Michigan and Early postfire effects of a prescribed fire in the southern Appalachians of North Carolina and the Research Paper by Bowles and others 2007 provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of several plant species, including northern red oak, that was not available when this species review was originally written.

  • 43. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 135. Wendel, G. W.; Smith, H. Clay. 1986. Effects of a prescribed fire in a central Appalachian oak-hickory stand. NE-RP-594. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 8 p. [73936]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: competition, density, root collar

Young northern red oaks commonly sprout vigorously from the stumps or
root collar after aboveground portions of the plant are killed by fire
[24,63].  Stem density is often increased as fire promotes sprouting and
reduces competition [25,91].  Johnson [51] reported that one to three
living stems may originate from a single root collar.  Frequent fire can
produce oak scrublands [25,52].  Hannah [43] reports that the "best"
sprouts often originate from buds located at, or below, ground level.
These sprouts may be more vigorous and less susceptible to rot or other
damage.

Seedling sprouts are often particularly important in postfire
reestablishment, but seedling establishment may also occur [102].  Large
oaks that survive fire frequently serve as seed sources [43].  Dying
trees often produce a massive seed crop.  Acorns often germinate well on
mineral soil, and establishment may actually be favored in burned areas
[98].  Scheiner and others [103] reported 56 sprouts per acre (138/ha)
and 51 seedlings per acre (125/ha) after a fire in Michigan.

Rouse [98] reported that most large oaks are "capable of minimizing
fire-caused losses due to damaged cambium by rerouting the functions of
fire-killed portions within weeks after a fire."

Specific response is presumably related to such factors as fire
severity, season of burn, and plant age and vigor.  Fire does not always
produce increases in northern red oak.  Van Lear and Waldrop [120]
reported that a spring fire in a northern red oak stand failed to
increase oak abundance in the understory.
  • 24. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 43. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 51. Johnson, Paul S. 1976. Eight-year performance of interplanted hardwoods in southern Wisconsin oak clearcuts. Res. Pap. NC-126. St, Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,North Central Forest Experiment Station. 9 p. [10930]
  • 52. Johnson, Paul S.; Jacobs, Rodney D.; Martin, A. Jeff; Godel, Edwin D. 1989. Regenerating northern red oak: three successful case histories. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 6: 174-178. [9653]
  • 63. Kruger, Eric L.; Reich, Peter B. 1989. Comparative growth and physiology of stem-pruned and unpruned northern red oak. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 302. [9393]
  • 91. Perala, Donald A. 1974. Repeated prescribed burning in aspen. Res. Note NC-171. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 4 p. [7350]
  • 98. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]
  • 102. Scheiner, Samuel M. 1988. The seed bank and above-ground vegetation in an upland pine-hardwood succession. Michigan Botanist. 27(4): 99-106. [12396]
  • 103. Scheiner, Samuel M.; Sharik, Terry L.; Roberts, Mark R.; Vande Kopple, Robert. 1988. Tree density and modes of tree recruitment in a Michigan pine-hardwood forest after clear-cutting and burning. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 102(4): 634-638. [8718]
  • 120. Van Lear, David H.; Waldrop, Thomas A. 1988. Effects of fire on natural regeneration in the Appalachian Mountains. In: Smith, H. Clay; Perkey, Arlyn W.; Kidd, William E., Jr., eds. Guidelines for regenerating Appalachian hardwood stands: Workshop proceedings; 1988 May 24-26; Morgantown, WV. SAF Publ. 88-03. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Books: 56-70. [13934]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the terms: prescribed burn, tree, wildfire

Oaks tend to be less susceptible to fire during the dormant season [98].
Individuals of poor vigor are less likely to heal following fire-induced
injury than are healthy vigorous specimens.  Oaks growing in overstocked
stands typically exhibit lower vigor and are more susceptible to
fire-caused damage.  Crooked or leaning trees are particularly
susceptible to damage since the flames are more likely to be directly
below the stem, thereby increasing the amount of heat received by the
bark's surface.  Mortality or serious injury increases with greater fire
severity.  Mortality of seedlings may be correlated with temperatures
near the root collars [51].  [See FIRE CASE STUDY].

High mortality was reported after 8 years of biennial burning, although
mortality was not obvious until after the first 3 years.  A spring fire
killed 58 percent of existing northern red oak seedlings and caused
severe damage to the boles of some overstory trees [120].  However, an
"extremely hot" wildfire in Indiana, killed only 22 percent of
4-year-old plants [25].  The tops of 92 percent of 1-year-old northern
red oak seedlings were killed by a low-severity prescribed burn in
Wisconsin, but regenerative portions of 38 percent survived [25].

Northern red oak is generally more severely fire-scarred than many other
oaks [112].  When basal cambial tissue is seriously damaged by fire,
injuries often permit the entry of insects or decay that may ultimately
kill the tree [1,45,98,106].  Toole [132] reported that by the 2d year
after fire, 60 percent of wounded northern red oaks was infested by
insects.  Heart rot spread to 2.5 times the height of the bark
discoloration within 7 years of the fire.  Heart rot progressed more
slowly where the original fire scar represented less than 20 percent of
the tree's circumference and more rapidly where the fire scar was more
extensive.  Rouse [98] estimated that rot traveled up the bole of a
fire-damaged tree at 1.25 feet (0.4 m) per decade.

Mortality equations based on d.b.h., and the width and height of bark
blackening have been developed for northern red oak [71].  These
equations can be useful in predicting if a fire-damaged oak will
survive.
  • 1. Abell, Margaret S. 1932. Much heart rot enters white oaks through fire wounds. Forest Worker. 8(6): 10. [6593]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 45. Hepting, George H.; Hedgcock, George G. 1935. Relation between butt rot and fire in some eastern hardwoods. Tech. Note 14. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Appalachian Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [10186]
  • 51. Johnson, Paul S. 1976. Eight-year performance of interplanted hardwoods in southern Wisconsin oak clearcuts. Res. Pap. NC-126. St, Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,North Central Forest Experiment Station. 9 p. [10930]
  • 71. Loomis, Robert M. 1973. Estimating fire-caused mortality and injury in oak-hickory forests. Res. Pap. NC-94. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 6 p. [8740]
  • 98. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]
  • 106. Shigo, Alex L. 1971. Discoloration & decay in oak. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 135-141. [9090]
  • 112. Spalt, Karl W.; Reifsnyder, William E. 1962. Bark characteristics and fire resistance: a literature survey. Occas. Paper 193. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 19 p. In cooperation with: Yale University, School of Forestry. [266]
  • 120. Van Lear, David H.; Waldrop, Thomas A. 1988. Effects of fire on natural regeneration in the Appalachian Mountains. In: Smith, H. Clay; Perkey, Arlyn W.; Kidd, William E., Jr., eds. Guidelines for regenerating Appalachian hardwood stands: Workshop proceedings; 1988 May 24-26; Morgantown, WV. SAF Publ. 88-03. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Books: 56-70. [13934]
  • 132. Toole, E. Richard. 1965. Fire damage to commercial hardwoods in southern bottom lands. In: Proceedings, 4th annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1965 March 18-19; Tallahassee, FL. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 144-151. [8715]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the term: root crown

   survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
   survivor species; on-site surviving roots
   off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2

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Successional Status

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More info for the terms: mesic, succession

Northern red oak is intermediate in shade tolerance [101].  It is
generally considered a midseral species, but its successional status is
poorly known.  Crow [25] reported that it is "neither an aggressive
colonizer that is characteristic of early successional species nor an
enduring shade-tolerant, slow-grower . . . typical of late successional
species."  Even-aged stands are common; northern red oak is unable to
establish beneath its own canopy.  Advanced regeneration provides a mode
by which northern red oak can reoccupy a site following disturbances
such as fire, wind damage, or herbivory.  In most areas, advanced
regeneration persists for no more than a few years [85].  Parker and
others [88] reported that some seedlings persisted for approximately 25
years despite repeated die-backs.  These seedlings did not reach sapling
or pole size unless gaps were created in the forest canopy; most
ultimately died [88].  Limited evidence suggests that northern red oak
may have maintained itself in some mature forests through gap-phase
replacement [25].  Northern red oak is often replaced by more
shade-tolerant species such as sugar maple and American basswood [6,17].

The Upper Midwest:  In parts of the Upper Midwest, northern red oak
dominates early seral to midseral stages following clearcutting but is
replaced by sugar maple and American basswood [51].  Northern red oak
assumes prominence after early succession in which bigtooth aspen
(Populus grandidentata) dominates in upland pine-hardwood forests of
Michigan [102] and persists in some old-growth oak-hickory forests of
southern Michigan [42].  Even-aged stands found in parts of the
Driftless Area may have originated after intense, stand-replacing fires
that began in nearby prairies and savannas.  With frequent fires, sugar
maple forests are replaced by northern red oak stands [25].

New England:  In New England, logging and slash fires in the late 1800's
and early 1900's replaced pine-hemlock forests with stands made up of
oak and maple [83].  In central New England, where advance regeneration
is present prior to disturbance, northern red oak often assumes
dominance between 10 to 40 years after disturbance and often persists
for 100 years or more [46].  Forests are often replaced by sugar maple,
red maple, or gray birch (Betula populifolia) [46,83].

Central Midwest:  Northern red oak is present in old growth floodplain
forests of Illinois [96] and in "postclimax" stands on mesic sites in
Nebraska [2].  In parts of Indiana, it is generally regarded as a
midseral to late seral species in mesophytic forests and is often
replaced by species such as sugar maple, Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra),
shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), American beech, and white ash in climax
stands [86,88].
  • 2. Albertson, F. W.; Weaver, J. E. 1945. Injury and death or recovery of trees in prairie climate. Ecological Monographs. 15: 393-433. [4328]
  • 6. Auclair, Allan N.; Cottam, Grant. 1971. Dynamics of black cherry (Prunus serotina Erhr.) in southern Wisconsin oak forests. Ecological Monographs. 41(2): 153-177. [8102]
  • 17. Cahayla-Wynne, Richard; Glenn-Lewin, David C. 1978. The forest vegetation of the Driftless Area, northeast Iowa. The American Midland Naturalist. 100(2): 307-319. [10385]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 42. Hammitt, William E.; Barnes, Burton V. 1989. Composition and structure of an old-growth oak-hickory forest in southern Michigan over 20 years. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 247-253. [9386]
  • 46. Hibbs, D. E. 1983. Forty years of forest succession in central New England. Ecology. 64(6): 1394-1401. [9613]
  • 51. Johnson, Paul S. 1976. Eight-year performance of interplanted hardwoods in southern Wisconsin oak clearcuts. Res. Pap. NC-126. St, Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,North Central Forest Experiment Station. 9 p. [10930]
  • 83. Nowacki, Gregory J.; Abrams, Marc D.; Lorimer, Craig G. 1990. Composition, structure, and historical development of northern red oak stands along an edaphic gradient in north-central Wisconsin. Forest Science. 36(2): 276-292. [11787]
  • 85. Olson, David F., Jr.; Boyce, Stephen G. 1971. Factors affecting acorn production and germination and early growth of seedlings and seedling sprouts. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 44-48. [9081]
  • 86. Olson, Jerry S. 1958. Rates of succession and soil changes on southern Lake Michigan sand dunes. Botanical Gazette. 119(3): 125-170. [10557]
  • 88. Parker, G. R.; Leopold, D. J.; Eichenberger, J. K. 1985. Tree dynamics in an old-growth, deciduous forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 11(1&2): 31-57. [13314]
  • 96. Robertson, Philip A.; Weaver, George T.; Cavanaugh, James A. 1978. Vegetation and tree species patterns near the northern terminus of the southern floodplain forest. Ecological Monographs. 48(3): 249-267. [10381]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]
  • 102. Scheiner, Samuel M. 1988. The seed bank and above-ground vegetation in an upland pine-hardwood succession. Michigan Botanist. 27(4): 99-106. [12396]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: litter, natural, tree

Seed:  Northern red oak generally first bears fruit at 25 years of age,
although most trees do not produce acorns in abundance until 50 years of
age [101].  On extremely favorable sites trees as young as 10 years may
bear some fruit [53].  Northern red oak produces good crops every 2 to 5
years [101].  Yields vary by individual as well as with weather
conditions and site factors.  Relatively large, dominant or codominant
individuals with open crowns typically produce more acorns than do trees
with small, restricted crowns.  Trees with a 16 inch (41 cm) d.b.h. can
yield 800 acorns per year, and trees with a d.b.h. of 20 to 22 inches
(51-56 cm) can yield 1,600 acorns per year [33].  Larger trees tended to
be less productive.  Total acorn production may range from 100 to more
than 4,100 per tree [111].  In a single year, northern red oak trees
produced a combined total of nearly 14,000 sound acorns per acre in a
mixed oak stand in southern Michigan [33].  Cold, rainy weather during
flowering can result in poor seed production [43].

Under carefully controlled conditions, acorns can be stored for up to 2
or 3 years [127].  After 52 months in storage, only a few acorns
remained viable.  In good acorn years up to 80 percent of the crop is
commonly destroyed, and in poor years virtually the entire acorn crop
can be eliminated by birds, mammals, and insects [101].

Germination:  Acorns of northern red oak are characterized by variable
dormancy which requires stratification for germination [11].  Dormancy
varies by the individual seed [114], but northern seeds often require
longer stratification [11].  Under natural conditions, acorns generally
germinate in the spring after dormancy is broken by over-wintering [24].
Delayed germination may occur but is very rare [114].  Seeds can be
stratified at 35 to 41 degrees F (2-5 degrees C) for several months
[11].

Acorns germinate best in soil which is covered by a layer of leaf litter
[101].  In one study, 80 percent of all planted acorns germinated
compared with less than 1 percent of acorns left on the soil surface.
Domestic animals such as pigs and cows may promote germination by
trampling the soil and "planting" the acorns, and by reducing competing
herbaceous vegetation [25].  Seeds on the soil surface are particularly
vulnerable to rodent predation [24].  In an Iowa study all seeds present
on top of the litter layer were destroyed by rodents compared with 68
percent of buried seeds [33].

Seed dispersal:  Seeds of northern red oak are primarily dispersed by
birds and mammals.  Scatter-hoarders such as the gray squirrel are
particularly important dispersal agents in some areas [111].  Gray
squirrels bury as much as 19 percent of the available acorn crop and
fail to recover many seeds over the winter [65].  Scatter-hoarders
typically disperse seed a few yards from the source tree.  Mice and
chipmunks are short-distance dispersers and usually move seeds 33 to 98
feet (10-30 m) [25].  Blue jays are effective long-distance dispersal
agents and can transport seed from several hundred yards to 2 or 3 miles
(4-5 km) [25,53,57].  Evidence suggests that blue jays prefer to cache
acorns on open sites or at forest margins [25].  Gravity may aid in seed
dispersal [101].

Seedling establishment:  Seedling establishment is generally limited to
years of abundant acorn production [101].  However, advance regeneration
is usually present.  In mature stands, seedlings may number up to 7,000
per acre (2,824/ha), but few survive more than a few years or grow to
more than 6 or 8 inches (15-20 cm) in height [52].  Seedlings require
adequate soil moisture for survival and good early development [24].
Early growth may be reduced by a combination of shade, low soil
fertility, and competing herbaceous vegetation [60,61].  Shading alone
has little effect on initial seedling establishment [60].

Vegetative regeneration:  Northern red oak commonly sprouts vigorously
after plants are damaged or killed by fire or mechanical injury [101].
Small poles, saplings, and even seedlings can sprout if cut or burned
[43].  Although young oaks typically stump sprout more readily than do
older or larger individuals, northern red oaks up to 22 inches (56 cm)
in diameter have produced sprouts [33].  Stump sprouts derived from
larger stems tend to grow faster than those derived from smaller,
damaged stems.  Individuals 20 to 25 years of age regardless of size
produce an average of four or five sprouts [101].

Repeated sprouting is common in northern red oak [122]; many seedlings
die back to the ground level periodically.  Seedling sprouts with root
collars up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter often develop after repeated
damage [46].  After repeated fires, these stems may develop "stools" or
areas comprised of callus tissue filled with dormant buds.  Seedlings
often develop an "s"-shaped curve at ground level which helps protect
dormant buds from fire [98].  Cycles of dying back and sprouting can
result in crooked, flat-topped, or forked stems [101].

Root sprouting also occurs [46].  Sprouts that develop at or below the
ground level are less likely to decay than are sprouts that develop
relatively high on the parent stump [101].  Epicormic buds located
beneath the bark of older oaks commonly sprout when older trees are
damaged or after openings are created by heavy thinning [101,122].

Bud dormancy is largely controlled by auxins rather than by levels of
carbohydrate reserves [122].  Apical dominance can restrict the
development of belowground buds when buds survive on aboveground
portions of the plant.  Sprouting is reduced by low light levels [122]
and decreases as the stand ages [75].  The number of sprout groups
decreases from poor to good sites [75].  Initial sprout growth is
typically rapid [98].
  • 11. Bonner, F. T.; Vozzo, J. A. 1987. Seed biology and technology of Quercus. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-66. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 21 p. [3248]
  • 24. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 33. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 43. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 46. Hibbs, D. E. 1983. Forty years of forest succession in central New England. Ecology. 64(6): 1394-1401. [9613]
  • 52. Johnson, Paul S.; Jacobs, Rodney D.; Martin, A. Jeff; Godel, Edwin D. 1989. Regenerating northern red oak: three successful case histories. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 6: 174-178. [9653]
  • 53. Knapp, Eric E.; Rice, Kevin J. 1998. Genetic structure and gene flow in Elymus glaucus (blue rye): implications for native grassland retoration. Restoration Ecology. 4(1): 1-10. [11875]
  • 57. Kittredge, David B.; Ashton, P. Mark S. 1990. Natural regeneration patterns in even-aged mixed stands in southern New England. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 7: 163-168. [13323]
  • 60. Kolb, T. E.; Steiner, K. C.; McCormick, L. H.; Bowersox, T. W. 1990. Growth response of northern red-oak and yellow-poplar seedlings to light, soil moisture and nutrients in relation to ecological strategy. Forest Ecology and Management. 38(172): 65-78. [13329]
  • 61. Kolb, T. E.; Steiner, K. C. 1990. Growth and biomass partitioning of northern red oak and yellow-poplar seedlings: effects of shading and grass root competition. Forest Science. 36(1): 34-44. [10407]
  • 65. Lewis, Allen R. 1982. Selection of nuts by gray squirrels and optimal foraging theory. The American Midland Naturalist. 107: 250-257. [8391]
  • 75. McIntyre, A. C. 1936. Sprout groups and their relation to the oak forests of Pennsylvania. Journal of Forestry. 34: 1054-1058. [10086]
  • 98. Rouse, Cary. 1986. Fire effects in northeastern forests: oak. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-105. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [3884]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]
  • 111. Sork, Victoria L.; Stacey, Peter; Averett, John E. 1983. Utilization of red oak acorns in non-bumper crop year. Oecologia. 59: 49-53. [4593]
  • 114. Steiner, K. C.; Zaczek, J. J.; Bowersox, T. W. 1990. Effects of nursery regime and other treatments on field performance of northern red oak. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 11. Abstract. [13138]
  • 122. Vogt, Albert R.; Cox, Gene S. 1970. Evidence for the hormonal control of stump sprouting by oak. Forest Science. 16(2): 165-171. [9872]
  • 127. Weckerly, Floyd W.; Sugg, Derrick W.; Semlitsch, Raymond D. 1989. Germination success of acorns (Quercus): insect predation and tannins. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 811-815. [10150]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Season/Severity Classification

mid-April/not reported.

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Reaction to Competition

Northern red oak is classed as  intermediate in shade tolerance. It is less tolerant than some of  its associates such as sugar maple (Acer saccharum), beech  (Fagus grandifolia), basswood (Tilia americana), and  the hickories but more tolerant than others such as yellow-poplar  (Liriodendron tulipifera), white ash, and black cherry  (Prunus serotina). Among the oaks, it is less shade  tolerant than white and chestnut and about equal with black and  scarlet (24).

    Northern red oak responds well to release if the released trees  are in the codominant or above average intermediate crown classes  (11). The best response to thinning or release is obtained if the  thinning or release is made before an even-aged stand containing  northern red oak is 30 years old. Trees in well-stocked stands 30  years old and older generally have small, restricted crowns and  are unable to make efficient use of the growing space provided by  thinning or release (24). In Arkansas, 50-year-old released crop  trees averaged a 40-percent increase in diameter growth over  unreleased trees in the 10 years immediately following release.  Although diameter growth increased the first year after release,  the greatest responses occurred in years 5-10 when growth of the  released trees averaged about 0.5 cm (0.2 in) annually and was   about twice that of unreleased trees (11). Epicormic branching  can be prolific on northern red oak following heavy thinning in  stands older than about 30 years. Trees around the perimeter of  openings created by harvesting may also develop many epicormic  branches, because the boles of northern red oak in fully stocked  stands contain numerous dormant buds. When the boles are suddenly  exposed to greatly increased light, these buds begin to grow  (27).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

No information available.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: natural

The timing of annual budbreak varies with the genetic composition of the
plant and with site characteristics such as elevation and soils [8,62].
Budbreak tends to be delayed at higher elevations [62] and on sites with
copper, lead, or zinc mineralized soil [8].  Plants often undergo
relatively rapid vegetative growth from May through June [23].  Episodic
or recurrent shoot growth, in which periods of shoot elongation
alternate with resting periods, can occur throughout the growing season
[25].  Growth of leaves and roots is also often cyclic [27].  However,
under natural conditions, seedlings typically produce a single flush of
leaves during a relatively short period of growth which often lasts only
2 to 3 weeks.  The shoot becomes dormant during early summer despite
seemingly favorable growing conditions [25].

Flowering occurs in April or May, during or before leaf development
[33].  Acorns require two seasons for development and ripen in September
and October [24].  Phenological development by geographic area follows:

Area              Flowering         Fruit ripe        Reference

Adirondacks       May               September         [20]
Blue Ridge Mtns.  April-May         ----              [130]
WI                May               ----              [26]
var. rubra
NC,SC             April             August            [93]
var. borealis:
NC,SC             May               Sept.-Oct.        [93]
  • 93. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 130. Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p. [12908]
  • 8. Bell, R.; Labovitz, M. L.; Sullivan, D. P. 1985. Delay in leaf flush associated with a heavy metal-enriched soil. Economic Geology. 80: 1407-1414. [11014]
  • 20. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 23. Cook, David B. 1941. The period of growth in some northeastern trees. Journal of Forestry. 39: 956-959. [10341]
  • 24. Core, Earl L. 1971. Silvical characteristics of the five upland oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 19-22. [9077]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 26. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 27. Dickson, Richard E.; Tomlinson, Patricia T. 1990. Changes in carbon fixation, partitioning, and allocation during episodic growth in northern red oak seedlings. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 4. Abstract. [13131]
  • 33. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 62. Kriebel, Howard B. 1990. Genetic variation patterns in northern red oak. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 1. Abstract. [13128]

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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Northern red oak sprouts readily.  More than 95 percent of the northern red oaks in new production  stands are sprouts, either from advance reproduction or from  stumps of cut trees. New sprouts from advance reproduction arise  when old stems are damaged during logging. Height growth of new  sprouts is related to the size of the old, damaged stem; the  larger the old stem, the faster the new sprout will grow (25,26).  New sprouts grow rapidly and are usually straight and well  formed.

    Northern red oak stumps sprout more frequently than black oak or  white oak stumps but about the same as scarlet and chestnut oak  stumps (27). Sprouting frequency is related to parent tree size  with more small stumps sprouting than large ones. Large stumps  tend to produce more sprouts than small ones but by about age 20  to 25 the number of living sprouts per stump averages four or  five regardless of parent tree or stump size. Northern red oak  stump sprouts grow rapidly, averaging about 61 cm (24 in) or more  annually for about 30 years (14). These stump sprouts can be a  valuable component of new reproduction stands particularly if  they originate at or near the ground line. Sprouts of low origin  are much less likely to develop decay than sprouts that originate  high on the stump (24), but they tend to develop severe crook or   sweep at the base. Early clump thinning may be desirable to  improve potential quality although it is not needed to maintain  good growth.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Seedling Development

Northern red oak seedlings that are  established naturally or by planting at the time an old stand is  clearcut, regardless of how large the clearcut area, do not grow  fast enough to compete with the vigorous woody sprouts and other  vegetation (4,29). The species will be present in new  reproduction stands in proportion to the amount of advance  reproduction present before complete overstory removal. To  compete successfully in new stands, stems of northern red oak  advance reproduction must be large and have well-established root  systems. Thus, achieving successful northern red oak reproduction  depends on creating conditions necessary for establishing  seedlings and for their survival and growth (27,29).

    Northern red oak acorn germination is hypogeal (30). It occurs  during the spring following seedfall. Best germination occurs  when the acorns are in contact with or buried in mineral soil and  covered by a thin layer of leaf litter. Acorns on top of the leaf  litter or mixed with litter generally dry excessively during  early spring and lose their viability before temperatures are  favorable for germination (24,28).

    Although available soil moisture can be a critical factor  affecting first year survival of northern red oak seedlings, it  is usually adequate at the time acorns germinate. Germination is  followed by vigorous and rapid taproot development, and if the  taproot is able to penetrate the soil, seedlings survive  considerable moisture stress later in the growing season.  Northern red oak seedlings are less drought tolerant than white  or black oak seedlings, however (24,31).

    Light intensity appears to be the most critical factor affecting  not only first year survival, but also survival and growth in  subsequent years (20,28). Northern red oak reaches maximum  photosynthesis at about 30 percent of the light intensity in the  open (21). Light intensity under forest stands is often much  lower, however, at about 15 cm (6 in) above the ground, where the  new seedlings are competing. Light intensity at this level under  forest stands in Missouri has been documented to be 10 percent or  less of that in the open, a level too low to allow seedlings to  survive and grow.

    Once established under a forest stand, northern red oak seedlings  seldom remain true seedlings for more than a few years.  Conditions such as fire, poor light, poor moisture conditions, or  animal activity kill the tops, but not the roots. One or more  dormant buds near the root collar then produce new sprouts. This  dieback and resprouting may occur several times; the result is a  crooked, flat-topped, or forked stem. Such stems have root  systems that may be from 10 to 15 years or more older than the  tops (29).

    Northern red oak shoot growth is episodic. When moisture, light,  and temperature conditions are favorable, multiple shoot growth  flushes will occur in the same growing season. The first flush is  generally the longest and each flush is followed by a distinctive  rest period. Most of the annual root elongation occurs during the  rest periods (22).

    Growth of northern red oak advance reproduction, seedlings, and  sprouts is slow and generally restricted to one growth flush  under undisturbed or lightly disturbed forest stands; at best it  averages only a few centimeters annually (28).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

In forest stands  northern red oak begins to bear fruit at about age 25 but usually  does not produce seeds abundantly until about age 50. Good to  excellent seed crops are produced at irregular intervals, usually  every 2 to 5 years (30).

    Acorn production is highly variable among trees even in good seed  years. Some trees are always poor producers while others are  always good producers. Crown size seems to be the most important  tree characteristic affecting acorn production. Dominant or  codominant trees with large, uncrowded crowns produce more acorns  than trees with small, restricted crowns (24).

    Even in good years only about I percent of the acorns become  available for regenerating northern red oak, and as many as 500  or more acorns may be required to produce one 1-year-old  seedling. Many acorns are consumed by insects, squirrels, small  rodents, deer, and turkey and other birds. They can eat or damage  more than 80 percent of the acorn crop in most years and  virtually 100 percent of the crop in very poor seed years  (19,24,28). The large acorns are generally dispersed over only  short distances. Gravity and the caching activities of squirrels  and mice are the primary means of dispersal.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

Northern red oak is monoecious.  The staminate flowers are borne in catkins that develop from leaf  axils of the previous year and emerge before or at the same time  as the current leaves in April or May. The pistillate flowers are  solitary or occur in two- to many-flowered spikes that develop in  the axils of the current year's leaves. The fruit is an acorn or  nut that occurs singly or in clusters of from two to five, is  partially enclosed by a scaly cup, and matures in 2 years.  Northern red oak acorns are brown when mature and ripen from late  August to late October, depending on geographic location (30).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Mature northern red oaks are usually  from 20 to 30 m (65 to 98 ft) tall and 61 to 91 cm (24 to 36 in)  in d.b.h. in undisturbed stands on good sites. Forest-grown trees  develop a tall, straight columnar bole and large crowns.  Opengrown trees tend to have short boles and spreading crowns  (24).

    Average diameter growth of northern red oak for a range of ages,  sites, and stand conditions in the Central States is about 5 mm  (0.2 in) annually (9). On good sites in the Appalachians,  dominant and codominant northern red oaks in even-aged stands may  attain average annual diameter growth rates of about 10 cm (0.4  in) and on average sites about 6 mm (0.25 in) by age 50 or 60  (32).

    Growing space requirements are not known for northern red oak in  pure stands, but average requirements have been developed for  mixed oaks in even-aged stands. Competition for growing space  begins when the available space in a stand is equal to the total  of the maximum requirements of all the trees in the stand. This  is the lowest level of stocking for full site utilization and is  about 60 percent of full stocking. The minimum growing space for  a tree 15.2 cm (6 in) in d.b.h. to survive averages about 8.5 m²  (92 ft². If that tree is in the open or completely free from  competition, the maximum amount of growing space it can use is  14.4 m² (155 ft² . For a tree 53.3 cm (21 in) in  d.b.h., minimum and maximum growing spaces are 26.5 m² (285  ft² ) and 45.7 m² (492 ft²) respectively.  Experience in using the stocking standards developed by Gingrich  (8) indicates that a northern red oak tree requires less growing  space than trees of other oak species with the same diameter (10,  18). How much less growing space is required has not been  determined, however.

    Yields of unthinned, 80-year-old oak stands in the Central States  that contain northern red oak range from 75.6 m³/ha (5,400  fbm/acre) on site index 16.8 m (55 ft) sites (base age 50 years)  to 175.0 m³/ha (12,500 fbm/acre) on site index 22.9 m (75  ft) sites. At age 70, oak stands that are first thinned at age 20  and then thinned regularly to the lowest level of stocking for  full site utilization at about 10-year intervals will yield about  102.9 m³/ha (7,350 fbm/acre) on site index 16.8 m (55 ft)  sites and about 278.3 m³/ha (19,880 fbm/acre) on site index  22.9 m (75 ft) sites (9). In southern Michigan, the average  yields of 80-year-old unmanaged stands containing northern red  oak ranged from 12.6 m³/ha (900 fbm/acre) to 3.5 m³/ha  (250 fbm/acre) on poor sites and from 154.0 m³ (11,000  fbm/acre) to 280.0 m³ /ha (20,000 fbm/acre) on good sites  (1).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Population Differences    Several traits related to geographic origin were identified for  northern red oak in a 14-year provenance test in the North-  Central States. Time of flushing is earliest for trees of  northwestern origin. The trend is then eastward and southward.  Autumn leaf coloration is earliest for provenances from northern  latitudes and then progresses southward. Provenances from regions  at the western edge of the northern red oak range, where periods  of high summer temperatures and drought are common, survived  better under such conditions than other provenances. Much  variation in height growth was present and performance of the  provenances was not consistent in all tests. The only consistent  difference was the slower growth of the northern provenances in  areas farther south. The within-family variation was so great it  obscured any real differences in geographic origin (15).

    Races    The nomenclature for northern red oak was confused for some time.  The scientific names Quercus borealis Michx. f. and Q.  borealis var. maxima (Marsh.) Sarg. were adopted  after 1915 by some authors, but in 1950, Quercus rubra L.,  the name in universal use before 1915, was restored (17).

    Hybrids    Northern red oak hybridizes readily with other species in the  subgenus Erythrobalanus and the following hybrids have  been named: Quercus x columnaris Laughlin (Q. palustris  x rubra); Q. x fernaldii Trel. (Q. ilicifolia x rubra);  Q. x heterophylla Michx. f. (Q. phellos x rubra);  Q. x hawkinsiae Sudw. (Q. velutina x rubra); Q. x  riparia Laughlin (Q. shumardii x rubra); and Q. x  runcinata (A. DC.) Engelm. (Q. imbricaria x  rubra).

    Northern red oak also hybridizes with blackjack oak (Q.  marilandica) and with northern pin oak (Q. ellipsoidalis)  (17).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Quercus rubra

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Quercus rubra

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center and the Biota of North America Program

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: presence, selection, series

Silviculture:  Northern red oak often regenerates poorly after timber
harvest.  According to Loftis [70], "the preparatory and seed cuts of
the classical shelterwood will not be a part of the shelterwood sequence
to regenerate oaks, but rather, the cuttings applied in a shelterwood to
regenerate northern red oak should be considered removal cuts to exploit
the presence of small advanced oak reproduction, enhancing the
development of and finally, releasing advanced reproduction that is
already established."  The presence of vigorous advanced regeneration is
essential for producing good stands of northern red oak after timber
harvest [5,21,85].  For adequate regeneration of oaks, advanced
regeneration of at least 4.5 feet (1.4 m) in height should number at
least 435 stems per acre (217/ha) prior to harvest [100].  However,
Kittridge and Aston [57] reported that as few as 60 stems per acre
(24/ha) may be sufficient for oak regeneration in some areas.

A series of selection cuts can produce stands with several age classes
and can generate sufficient advanced regeneration for well-stocked,
postharvest stands [7].  Initial cuts should reduce overstory densities
to no less than 60 percent stocking [100].  Reduction of competing
understory species may also be necessary in some instances [7,100].
Prescriptions for regenerating northern red oak should include the
following:  (1) control competing vegetation, (2) reduce overstory
density, (3) ensure adequate propagules, (4) manage for seedling
sprouts, and (5) remove overstory after seedling establishment [25].

Chemical control:  Oaks often produce basal sprouts in response to
herbicide treatments [36].  However, injections of glyphosate can kill
plants [128].

Mechanical treatments:  Trees which have been cut often develop multiple
trunks [10].  Approximately 9.9 sprouts per stump were reported 5 years
after trees were cut in Pennsylvania.  Average sprout numbers declined
to 1.1 per acre 35 years after cutting [75].  Sprouts derived from cut
stumps are often more vigorous than those which have developed as a
result of fire or herbivory [115].

Insects/disease:  Northern red oak is susceptible to several diseases
including oak wilt and oak decline [76].  Oak decline is particularly
serious and has affected northern red oak throughout much of the central
Appalachian region [80].  The gypsy moth and numerous other insects can
attack northern red oak, occasionally causing serious damage [41,101].

Damage:  Northern red oak is resistant to windthrow [87].

Environmental considerations:  Northern red oak is resistant to ozone
damage [48].

Wildlife considerations:  Increases in bear damage to crops, livestock,
and beehives has been noted in years of poor acorn crops [97].  Acorn
production for wildlife can be increased by selective thinning and by
protecting large oaks [90].
  • 97. Rogers, Lynn. 1976. Effects of mast and berry crop failures on survival, growth, and reproductive success of black bears. Transactions, North American Wildlife Conference. 41: 431-438. [8951]
  • 5. Auchmoody, L. R. 1990. A study to determine the factors limiting natural establishment and development of red oak seedlings. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 27. Abstract. [13154]
  • 10. Birdsell, Rodney; Hamrick, J. L. 1978. The effect of slope-aspect on the composition and density of an oak-hickory forest in eastern Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin. 51(18): 565-573. [10386]
  • 21. Clark, F. Bryan; Watt, Richard F. 1971. Silvicultural methods for regenerating oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 37-43. [9080]
  • 25. Crow, T. R. 1988. Reproductive mode and mechanisms for self-replacement of northern red oak (Quercus rubra)--a review. Forest Science. 34(1): 19-40. [8730]
  • 36. Garrett, H. E.; Thomas, M. W.; Pallardy, S. G. 1989. Susceptibility of sugar maple and oak to eleven foliar-applied herbicides. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 81-85. [9371]
  • 41. Gottschalk, Kurt W.; McGraw, James B.; Vavrek, Milan C. 1990. Effect of defoliation on growth and photosynthesis of northern red oak seedlings grown under different conditions of light, nutrients, & water. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 5. Abstract. [13132]
  • 48. Houston, David R. 1971. Noninfectious diseases of oaks. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 118-123. [9088]
  • 57. Kittredge, David B.; Ashton, P. Mark S. 1990. Natural regeneration patterns in even-aged mixed stands in southern New England. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 7: 163-168. [13323]
  • 70. Loftis, David L. 1990. A shelterwood method for regenerating red oak in the southern Appalachians. Forest Science. 36(4): 917-929. [13439]
  • 75. McIntyre, A. C. 1936. Sprout groups and their relation to the oak forests of Pennsylvania. Journal of Forestry. 34: 1054-1058. [10086]
  • 76. Millers, Imants; Shriner, David S.; Rizzo, David. 1989. History of hardwood decline in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-126. Bromall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 75 p. [10925]
  • 80. Mueller-Dombois, Dieter; Canfield, Joan E.; Holt, R. Alan; Buelow, Gary P. 1983. Tree-group death in North American and Hawaiian forests: a pathological problem or a new problem for vegetative ecology? Phytocoenologia. 11(1): 117-137. [7852]
  • 85. Olson, David F., Jr.; Boyce, Stephen G. 1971. Factors affecting acorn production and germination and early growth of seedlings and seedling sprouts. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 44-48. [9081]
  • 87. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests. 1953. Forest tree planting. 2d ed. Bull. No. R 1. Toronto, Canada: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Division of Reforestation. 68 p. [12130]
  • 90. Pekins, Peter J.; Mautz, William W. 1988. Digestibility and nutritional value of autumn diets of deer. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(2): 328-332. [10108]
  • 100. Sander, Ivan L. 1979. Regenerating oaks. In: Proceedings of the National siviculture workshop. Theme: The shelterwood regeneration method; 1979 September 17-21; Charleston, SC. Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Division of Timber Management: 212-22. [11670]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]
  • 115. Stroempl, George. 1990. Northern red oak regeneration program in Ontario: an overview. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 25. Abstract. [13152]
  • 128. Wendel, G. W.; Kochenderfer, J. N. 1982. Glyphosate controls hardwoods in West Virginia. Res. Pap. NE-497. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [9869]
  • 7. Beck, Donald E. 1988. Clearcutting and other regeneration options for upland hardwoods. In: Proceedings, 16th annual hardwood symposium of the Hardwood Research Council; 1988 May 15-18; Chashiers, NC. Vol. 16. [Place of publication unknown]. Hardwood Research Council: 44-54. [10903]

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These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

These plant materials are somewhat available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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The tight, relatively thin bark of northern red oak makes the trees more susceptible to fire damage than in species of oak with rougher, corkier bark. Apart from immediate mortality, damaged basal cambial tissue permits the entry of insects and heart-rot decay that may ultimately kill the tree. Even so, northern red oak is adapted to periodic fire, which is integrally associated with oak forests. Older, larger individuals often survive fire and seedlings, saplings, and pole-sized individuals commonly sprout vigorously from the stumps or root collar after being top-killed by fire. Increased fire suppression has favored more shade-tolerant hardwoods and resulted in a decrease in oaks.

Acorns can maintain viability in controlled storage for up to 2–3 years. They should be stratified at 1-3 C for several months; those from northern populations require the longer period. Growth is best when sown as soon as ripe into permanent position or in an outdoor seedbed protected from predation. Cuttings obtained from young trees can be rooted if treated with hormones. Transplants of bare root stock are best done in spring. Because of its usefulness and popularity, northern red oak is commonly available in ball-and-burlap and in containers.

The gypsy moth and numerous other insects can attack northern red oak, occasionally causing serious damage. Numerous caterpillars enjoy oak foliage, but feeding damage is usually not severe. Oak decline is a serious disease of northern red oak and has affected the species throughout much of the central Appalachian region.

Oak wilt

Northern red oak is susceptible to oak wilt, a fungal disease that invades the water-conducting vessels and plugs them. As water movement is slowed, the leaves wilt and rapidly drop off the tree. The disease begins with a crinkling and paling of the leaves, followed by wilting and browning from the margins inward. Necrosis may be strongest along the veins or between them. The symptoms move down branches toward the center of the tree and the tree may die within 1–3 months, although some diseased trees may survive up to a year. The disease may be spread by insects (primarily beetles) or pruning tools, but most of the tree loss in oak wilt centers results from transmission through root spread between adjoining trees. A trench (dug and then immediately filled) between neighboring trees severs the roots and prevents fungus spread. Dead and infected trees must be destroyed – once a tree has become infected, there is little chance to save it. The wood may be used for firewood provided it is debarked or covered and sealed during the spring and summer (Johnson and Appel 2000; Roberts 2000; Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources 2000; City of Austin 2000).

This disease most seriously infects species of the red oak group (including black and live oaks). Overcup oak, bur oak, white oak, and other members of the white oak group are not as susceptible and can be planted in oak wilt centers. Oak wilt has reached epidemic proportions in Texas and in the mid-West from Iowa and Minnesota through Michigan and Wisconsin into Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, mesic to dry-mesic conditions, and soil containing deep loam or silty loam. However, Northern Red Oak also adapts to soil containing clay, sand, gravel, and rocky material. This tree develops fairly quickly for an oak and it is relatively easy to transplant. Individual trees begin to produce acorns after 25-50 years and they can live 250-500 years. Northern Red Oak is susceptible to oak wilt disease, which can be transmitted by bark beetles, grafting, contaminated pruning tools, or the roots of adjacent infected trees. This disease usually kills infected trees.
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Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: tree

The acorns of many species of oak (Quercus spp.) were traditionally an
important food source for Native American peoples [118].  Acorns of red
oak were leached with ashes to remove bitter tannins and then used in
various foods by many Native American peoples.  Preparations made from
the bark were used to treat bowel problems [38].

Northern red oak was first cultivated in 1724 [84] and is a popular
ornamental shade tree in eastern North America and in parts of Europe
[47,101].
  • 118. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
  • 38. Gilmore, Melvin Randolph. 1919. Uses of plants by the Indians of the Missouri River region. 33rd Annual Report. Washington, DC: Bureau of American Ethnology. 154 p. [6928]
  • 47. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 84. Olson, David F., Jr. 1974. Quercus L. oak. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 692-703. [7737]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Northern red oak is well adapted to some types of moderately
unproductive environments, including certain acidic sites [16,60], and
can be used in various rehabilitation projects.  Northern red oak has
been successfully planted onto coal mine spoils in Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania [4,16,66,89,123].

Plants can be propagated by several methods, including (1) transplanting
bareroot stock, (2) planting acorns in tubes, and (3) direct seeding.
Best survival of bareroot stock has been reported after spring planting
(90 percent survival compared to 50 percent survival after fall
planting) [115].  Direct seeding is the fastest and cheapest propagation
method and can be effective if few seed predators are present [114,115].
Cuttings obtained from young trees often root if properly treated with
hormones [28].
  • 123. Vogel, Willis G. 1990. Results of planting oaks on coal surface-mined lands. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 19. Abstract. [13146]
  • 4. Ashby, W. Clark. 1990. Growth of oaks on topsoiled mined lands. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 20. Abstract. [13147]
  • 16. Brothers, Timothy S. 1988. Indiana surface-mine forests: historical development and composition of a human-created vegetation complex. Southeastern Geographer. 28(1): 19-33. [8787]
  • 28. Doran, William L. 1957. Propagation of woody plants by cuttings. Experiment Station Bul. No. 491. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts, College of Agriculture. 99 . [6399]
  • 60. Kolb, T. E.; Steiner, K. C.; McCormick, L. H.; Bowersox, T. W. 1990. Growth response of northern red-oak and yellow-poplar seedlings to light, soil moisture and nutrients in relation to ecological strategy. Forest Ecology and Management. 38(172): 65-78. [13329]
  • 66. Limstrom, G. A.; Merz, R. W. 1949. Rehabilitation of lands stripped for coal in Ohio. Tech. Pap. No. 113. Columbus, OH: The Ohio Reclamation Association. 41 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Central States Forest Experiment Station. [4427]
  • 89. Paton, Robert R.; Secrest, Edmund; Ezri, Harold A. 1944. Ohio forest plantings. Bull. 647. Wooster, OH: Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station. 77 p. [6974]
  • 114. Steiner, K. C.; Zaczek, J. J.; Bowersox, T. W. 1990. Effects of nursery regime and other treatments on field performance of northern red oak. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 11. Abstract. [13138]
  • 115. Stroempl, George. 1990. Northern red oak regeneration program in Ontario: an overview. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Larson, M. M., eds. Proceedings, 4th workshop on seedling physiology and growth problems in oak plantings; 1989 March 1-2; Columbus, OH. (Abstracts). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-139. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 25. Abstract. [13152]

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Cover Value

More info for the terms: cover, tree

Northern red oak provides good cover for a wide variety of birds and
mammals.  Young oaks with low branches serve as particularly good winter
cover.  Oak leaves often persist longer than those of many of its plant
associates and in some areas, young oaks may represent the only brushy
winter cover in dense pole stands [105].  Oaks frequently serve as
perching or nesting sites for various songbirds [19].  Many cavity
nesters, such as the red-bellied and hairy woodpecker, utilize northern
red oak [133].  The well-developed crowns of oaks provide shelter and
hiding cover for tree squirrels and other small mammals.  Many birds and
mammals use twigs and leaves as nesting materials [74].  Large oaks
provide denning sites for a variety of mammals [19].
  • 105. Shaw, Samuel P. 1971. Wildlife and oak management. In: Oak symposium: Proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 84-89. [9087]
  • 19. Carey, Andrew B.; Gill, John D. 1980. Firewood and wildlife. Res. Note 299. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 5 p. [9925]
  • 74. Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p. [4021]
  • 133. Hardin, Kimberly I.; Evans, Keith E. 1977. Cavity nesting bird habitat in the oak-hickory forests--a review. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-30. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 23 p. [13859]

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Nutritional Value

Browse:  Dry, fallen leaves are relatively high in protein but low in
digestibility for deer [44].  The nutrient content of northern red oak
browse has been reported as follows [90]:

                     Crude       Ether       Crude       N-free
   Dry matter %      protein %   extract %   fiber %     extract %
   ---------------------------------------------------------------
   33.3              13.27       2.15        23.88       55.37

Acorns:  Northern red oak acorns are relatively low in protein,
phosphorous and crude fiber but are a good source of metabolizable
energy, starches, sugars, and fat [90,95,107,126].  One pound of
northern red oak acorns contains approximately 1,300 calories [95].
Crude available protein of northern red oak acorns has been estimated at
4.6 to 5.92 percent [65].  Smith and Follmer [109] reported that
northern red oak acorns exhibit relatively high tannin levels (6
percent).  Other studies have reported tannin levels ranging from 4.34
to 15.90 percent [15,126,127].
  • 95. Reid, Vincent H.; Goodrum, Phil D. 1957. The effect of hardwood removal on wildlife. In: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 141-147. [10477]
  • 107. Short, Henry L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 479-483. [10590]
  • 15. Briggs, John M.; Smith, Kimberly G. 1989. Influence of habitat on acorn selection by Peromyscus leucopus. Journal of Mammalogy. 70(1): 35-43. [10387]
  • 44. Harlow, Richard F.; Whelan, James B.; Crawford, Hewlette S.; Skeen, John E. 1975. Deer foods during years of oak mast abundance and scarcity. Journal of Wildlife Management. 39(2): 330-336. [10088]
  • 65. Lewis, Allen R. 1982. Selection of nuts by gray squirrels and optimal foraging theory. The American Midland Naturalist. 107: 250-257. [8391]
  • 90. Pekins, Peter J.; Mautz, William W. 1988. Digestibility and nutritional value of autumn diets of deer. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(2): 328-332. [10108]
  • 109. Smith, Christopher C.; Follmer, David. 1972. Food preferences of squirrels. Ecology. 53: 82-91. [2942]
  • 126. Weaver, J. E. 1960. Flood plain vegetation of the central Missouri Valley and contacts of woodland with prairie. Ecological Monographs. 30(1): 37-64. [275]
  • 127. Weckerly, Floyd W.; Sugg, Derrick W.; Semlitsch, Raymond D. 1989. Germination success of acorns (Quercus): insect predation and tannins. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 811-815. [10150]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: mast

Browse:  White-tailed deer commonly browse leaves and young seedlings
[81,119].  Telfer [116] reported that deer browsed only 2.8 percent of
northern red oak in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  However, in feeding
trials in New Hampshire, northern red oak leaves comprised 15 to 30
percent dry matter of deer diets [90].  Elk, hares, cottontail rabbits,
and moose also feed on northern red oak browse [116,119].  Pocket
gophers occasionally feed on the roots of seedlings [49].

Acorns:  Mammals - The white-footed mouse, eastern chipmunk, fox
squirrel, gray squirrel, red squirrel, white-tailed deer, flying
squirrels, and deer mice consume northern red oak acorns [15,111,119].
In a New Hampshire feeding trial, northern red oak acorns made up 5 to
55 percent (composition dry matter) of deer diets [90].  Acorns of the
northern red oak are a preferred fall and winter food of the gray
squirrel [40,65].  Domestic hogs also eat large quantities of northern
red oak acorns where available [119].  Acorns are an important fall food
source for the black bear [31,97].  The abundance of fall mast crops can
affect black bear reproductive success during the following year [31].

Birds - Acorns of the northern red oak are an important food source the
bobwhite, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, blue jay,
tufted titmouse, grackle, white-breasted nuthatch, sapsuckers, quail,
ruffed grouse, and other birds [111,119].  They represent a particularly
important food source for the wild turkey.  A single turkey can consume
more than 221 acorns at a "single meal" [95].  Other birds that feed on
acorns include the ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, ring-necked
pheasant, wild turkey, eastern crow, northern flicker, grackle, blue
jay, brown thrasher, tufted titmouse, starling, lesser prairie chicken,
chickadees, nuthatches, and other songbirds.  Acorns are also important
food sources for various waterfowl such as the golden-eye, gadwall, wood
duck, hooded merganser, mallard, American pintail, black duck, redhead,
and green-winged teal [74,119].  Sprouted acorns are readily eaten by
deer, mice, and the northern bobwhite [119].
  • 95. Reid, Vincent H.; Goodrum, Phil D. 1957. The effect of hardwood removal on wildlife. In: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 141-147. [10477]
  • 97. Rogers, Lynn. 1976. Effects of mast and berry crop failures on survival, growth, and reproductive success of black bears. Transactions, North American Wildlife Conference. 41: 431-438. [8951]
  • 119. Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals. Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428. [11983]
  • 15. Briggs, John M.; Smith, Kimberly G. 1989. Influence of habitat on acorn selection by Peromyscus leucopus. Journal of Mammalogy. 70(1): 35-43. [10387]
  • 31. Elowe, Kenneth D.; Dodge, Wendell E. 1989. Factors affecting black bear reproductive success and cub survival. Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(4): 962-968. [10339]
  • 40. Gorman, Owen T.; Roth, Roland R. 1989. Consequences of a temporally and spatially variable food supply for an unexploited gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) population. The American Midland Naturalist. 121(1): 41-60. [13302]
  • 49. Huntly, Nancy; Inouye, Richard. 1988. Pocket gophers in ecosystems: patterns and mechanisms. BioScience. 38(11): 786-793. [1937]
  • 65. Lewis, Allen R. 1982. Selection of nuts by gray squirrels and optimal foraging theory. The American Midland Naturalist. 107: 250-257. [8391]
  • 74. Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p. [4021]
  • 81. Myers, R. K.; Fischer, B. C.; Wright, G. M. 1989. Survival and development of underplanted northern red oak seedlings: 6-year results. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 150-155. [9379]
  • 90. Pekins, Peter J.; Mautz, William W. 1988. Digestibility and nutritional value of autumn diets of deer. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(2): 328-332. [10108]
  • 111. Sork, Victoria L.; Stacey, Peter; Averett, John E. 1983. Utilization of red oak acorns in non-bumper crop year. Oecologia. 59: 49-53. [4593]
  • 116. Telfer, Edmund S. 1972. Browse selection by deer and hares. Journal of Wildlife Management. 36(4): 1344-1349. [12455]

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Wood Products Value

More info for the terms: fuel, hardwood

Northern red oak is an important source of hardwood lumber [20,73].  Its
wood is heavy, hard, strong, coarse-grained, and at least moderately
durable [87].  When properly dried and treated, oak wood glues well,
machines very well, and accepts a variety of finishes [79].  The wood of
northern red oak has been used to make railroad ties, fenceposts,
veneer, furniture, cabinets, paneling, flooring, caskets, and pulpwood
[76,87].  Northern red oak has a high fuel value and is an excellent
firewood [76].
  • 20. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 76. Millers, Imants; Shriner, David S.; Rizzo, David. 1989. History of hardwood decline in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-126. Bromall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 75 p. [10925]
  • 87. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests. 1953. Forest tree planting. 2d ed. Bull. No. R 1. Toronto, Canada: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Division of Reforestation. 68 p. [12130]
  • 79. Moser, Harold C. 1971. Manufacture of oak furniture, cabinets, and panels. In: White, D. E.; Roach, B. A., co-chairmen. Oak symposium proceedings; 1971 August 16-20; Morgantown, WV. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 100-102. [13732]
  • 73. Maeglin, R. R. 1974. The effect of site quality and growth rate on the anatomy and utilization potential of northern red oak. In: Proceedings of the second annual hardwood symposium; 1974 May 2 - May 4; [Location of conference unknown]. [Place of publication unknown]. Hardwood Research Council: 191-205. [10589]

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Palatability

Browse:  The palatability of oak browse is reported to be relatively
high for domestic livestock and for many wildlife species.  Eastern oaks
are preferred by white-tailed deer in some locations [119].  New growth
is particularly palatable to deer and rabbits [43].

Acorns:  Acorns of the northern red oak are highly palatable to many
birds and mammals.  Northern red oak acorns appear to be less palatable
to the white-footed mouse than are white oak acorns [15].  Studies
indicate that relatively high tannin levels may impart a bitter taste
and decrease palatability as compared with acorns from other species of
oak [108,127].  However, gray squirrels prefer northern red oak acorns
to the acorns of other oaks [65].
  • 108. Short, Henry L.; Epps, E. A., Jr. 1976. Nutrient quality and digestibility of seeds and fruits from southern forests. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(2): 283-289. [10510]
  • 119. Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals. Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428. [11983]
  • 15. Briggs, John M.; Smith, Kimberly G. 1989. Influence of habitat on acorn selection by Peromyscus leucopus. Journal of Mammalogy. 70(1): 35-43. [10387]
  • 43. Hannah, Peter R. 1987. Regeneration methods for oaks. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 4: 97-101. [3728]
  • 65. Lewis, Allen R. 1982. Selection of nuts by gray squirrels and optimal foraging theory. The American Midland Naturalist. 107: 250-257. [8391]
  • 127. Weckerly, Floyd W.; Sugg, Derrick W.; Semlitsch, Raymond D. 1989. Germination success of acorns (Quercus): insect predation and tannins. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 811-815. [10150]

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Special Uses

Northern red oak has been extensively planted as an ornamental  because of its symmetrical shape and brilliant fall foliage.

    The acorns are an important food for squirrels deer, turkey, mice,  voles, and other mammals and birds.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Ivan L. Sander

Source: Silvics of North America

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Uses

Industry: Northern red oak is an important source of hardwood lumber. The wood is close-grained, heavy, and hard; it machines well and accepts a variety of finishes. It is used for furniture, veneer, interior finishing, cabinets, paneling, and flooring as well as for agricultural implements, posts, and railway ties.

Wildlife: Northern red oak provides good cover and nesting sites (including cavities) for a wide variety of birds and mammals. Deer, elk, moose, and rabbits commonly browse leaves and young seedlings and the acorns are eaten by a wide variety of large and small mammals and birds.

Ethnobotanic: The acorns of red oak (and other oak species) were an important food source for Native Americans. To remove bitter tannins, they were boiled, leached with ashes, soaked for days in water, or buried over winter. Some tribes used red oak bark as a medicine for heart troubles and bronchial infections or as an astringent, disinfectant, and cleanser.

Conservation: Northern red oak is commonly planted as a landscape tree in eastern North America and Europe -- used as a shade tree on lawns, parks, campuses, golf courses, etc, where space is sufficient. It is fast growing, easy to transplant, tolerant of urban conditions (including dry and acidic soil and air pollution), the abundant nuts attract wildlife, and the leaves develop a brick-red fall color. It has been used in various rehabilitation projects, including revegetation of coal mine spoils in states of the east central United States (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania).

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center and the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Quercus rubra

Quercus rubra, commonly called northern red oak or champion oak, (syn. Quercus borealis), is an oak in the red oak group (Quercus section Lobatae). It is a native of North America, in the northeastern United States and southeast Canada. It grows from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia, south as far as Georgia and states with good soil that is slightly acidic. Often simply called "red oak", northern red oak is formally so named to distinguish it from southern red oak (Q. falcata), also known as the Spanish oak. It is also the state tree of New Jersey and the provincial tree of Prince Edward Island.

Description[edit]

Immature Red Oak (Quercus rubra) foliage in Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

In many forests, this deciduous tree grows straight and tall, to 28 m (90 ft), exceptionally to 43 m (140 ft) tall, with a trunk of up to 50–100 cm (20–40 in) diameter. Open-grown trees do not get as tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 2 m (6 ft) in diameter. It has stout branches growing at right angles to the stem, forming a narrow round-topped head. It grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations, although it prefers the glacial drift and well-drained borders of streams.[2] It is frequently a part of the canopy in an oak-heath forest, but generally not as important as some other oaks.[3][4]

Detail of mature bark

Under optimal conditions, northern red oak is fast growing and a 10-year-old tree can be 5–6 m (15–20 ft) tall.[5] Trees may live up to 500 years according to the USDA,[6] and a living example of 326 years was noted in 2001 by Orwig et al.[7]

Northern red oak is easy to recognize by its bark, which feature bark ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the center. A few other oaks have bark with this kind of appearance in the upper tree, but the northern red oak is the only tree with the striping all the way down the trunk.

  • Bark:Dark reddish grey brown, with broad, thin, rounded ridges, scaly. On young trees and large stems, smooth and light gray. Rich in tannic acid. Branchlets slender, at first bright green, shining, then dark red, finally dark brown. Bark is brownish gray, becoming dark brown on old trees.
  • Wood: Pale reddish brown, sapwood darker, heavy, hard, strong, coarse-grained. Cracks in drying, but when carefully treated could be successfully used for furniture. Also used in construction and for interior finish of houses. Sp. gr., 0.6621; weight of cu. ft., 41.25 lbs.
Autumn red oak leaf
  • Winter buds: Dark chestnut brown (reddish brown), ovate, acute, generally 6 mm long
  • Leaves: Alternate, seven to nine-lobed, oblong-ovate to oblong, five to ten inches long, four to six inches broad; seven to eleven lobes tapering gradually from broad bases, acute, and usually repandly dentate and terminating with long bristle-pointed teeth; the second pair of lobes from apex are largest; midrib and primary veins conspicuous. Lobes are less deeply cut than most other oaks of the red oak group (except for black oak which can be similar). Leaves emerge from the bud convolute, pink, covered with soft silky down above, coated with thick white tomentum below. When full grown are dark green and smooth, sometimes shining above, yellow green, smooth or hairy on the axils of the veins below. In autumn they turn a rich red, sometimes brown. Often the petiole and midvein are a rich red color in midsummer and early autumn, though this is not true of all red oaks. The acorns mature in about 18 months after pollination; solitary or in pairs, sessile or stalked; nut oblong-ovoid with broad flat base, full, with acute apex, one half to one and one-fourth of an inch long, first green, maturing nut-brown; cup, saucer-shaped and shallow, 2 cm (0.8 in) wide, usually covering only the base, sometimes one-fourth of the nut, thick, shallow, reddish brown, somewhat downy within, covered with thin imbricated reddish brown scales. Its kernel is white and very bitter.[2] Despite this bitterness, they are eaten by deer, squirrels and birds.

Red oak acorns, unlike the white oak group, display epigeal dormancy and will not germinate without a minimum of three months' exposure to sub-40°F (4°C) temperatures. They also take two years of growing on the tree before development is completed.

Uses[edit]

Red oak in Appalachian mountains

The northern red oak is one of the most important oaks for timber production in North America. Quality red oak is of high value as lumber and veneer, while defective logs are used as firewood. Other related oaks are also cut and marketed as red oak, although their wood is not always of as high a quality. These include eastern black oak, scarlet oak, pin oak, Shumard oak, southern red oak and other species in the red oak group. Construction uses include flooring, veneer, interior trim, and furniture. It is also used for lumber, railroad ties, and fence posts.

Red oak wood grain is so open that smoke can be blown through it from end-grain to end-grain on a flat-sawn board. For this reason, it is subject to moisture infiltration and is unsuitable for outdoor uses such as boatbuilding or exterior trim.

Ornamental use[edit]

Q. rubra is grown in parks and large gardens as a specimen tree.[8]

Famous specimens[edit]

  • Ashford Oak - A very large Northern Red Oak in Ashford, Connecticut. The tree has suffered falling limbs because of its great age. However, this tree is still a sight to behold; the trunk is 8 m (26 feet) in circumference and the root-knees are also particularly impressive. The oak is located on Giant Oak Lane off U.S. Highway 44. There are several other large oaks in the area.[9]
  • Chase Creek Red Oak - This forest tree is located on a very rich steep slope in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. It is a high-stump coppice with three leads. It was the state champion oak in Maryland in 2002. The circumference at breast height is 6.7 m (22 feet), the height 41.5 m (136 feet) and the spread 29.9 m (98 feet)[9]
  • Shera-Blair Red Oak - This majestic red oak tree is located on Shelby Street in the South Frankfort neighborhood in Franklin County, Kentucky, and is the largest red oak tree in the oldest neighborhood in Frankfort, Kentucky. It is in the backyard of a house built in 1914 by architect Arthur Raymond Smith, who at one time worked for D.X. Murphy & Bros., famed architects that designed the twin spires at Churchill Downs. The circumference at breast height is 6.4 m (21 feet), with the trunk reaching higher than 40 feet before the branches begin and an estimated height of 130 feet.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NatureServe (2006), "Quercus rubra", NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life, Version 6.1., Arlington, retrieved 2007-06-13 
  2. ^ a b Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New Roak: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 349–354. 
  3. ^ The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
  4. ^ Schafale, M. P. and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
  5. ^ http://www.arborday.org/trees/treeGuide/TreeDetail.cfm?id=20
  6. ^ http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_quru.pdf
  7. ^ Eastern US oldlist
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Quercus rubra". Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Rucker, Colby B. (February 2004), Great Eastern Trees, Past and Present, retrieved 2007-05-05 
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Notes

Comments

Trees with large nuts only one-fourth covered by flat saucer-shaped cups often are treated as Quercus rubra var. rubra ; those with smaller nuts one-third covered by cup- or bowl-shaped cups are treated as Q . rubra var. borealis (F. Michaux) Farwell. While E. J. Palmer (1942) suggested that these two varieties do not breed true, K. M. McDougal and C. R. Parks (1986) found evidence of correspondence between morphologic types and flavonoid chemotypes. This is one of the most important ornamental and timber trees in the genus. 

 Native Americans used Quercus rubra for a number of medical purposes, including the treatment of sores, weakness, lung problems, sore throat, dysentery, indigestion, chapped skin, chills and fevers, lost voice, asthma, cough, milky urine, hear trouble, blood diseases, and Italian itch, and as an appetizer (D. E. Moerman 1986).

Quercus rubra reportedly hybridizes with Q . coccinea (= Q . × benderi Baenitz) and Q . ellipsoidalis (P. C. Swain 1972; R. J. Jensen et al. 1993); with Q . ilicifolia (= Q . × fernaldii Trelease), Q . imbricaria [ Q . × runcinata (A. de Candolle) Engelmann], and Q . marilandica (E. J. Palmer 1948; D. M. Hunt 1989); with Q . nigra (D. M. Hunt 1989); and with Q . palustris (= Q . × columnaris Laughlin), Q . phellos (= Q . × heterophylla F. Michaux), Q . shumardii (= Q . × riparia Laughlin), and Q . velutina (= Q . × hawkinsii Sudworth).

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Kartesz (1999) recognizes Quercus rubra var. ambigua as a distinct taxon while Flora North America (1997) does not.

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Comments: Kartesz (1999) recognizes Quercus rubra var. ambigua as a distinct taxon while Flora North America vol. 3 does not, further still, Flora North America vol. 3 does not even mention this taxon in synonymy or in the species description for Q. rubra.

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More info for the term: swamp

Northern red oak is a member of the red oak-black oak subgenus
(Erythrobalanus) within the order Fagales [11]. The currently accepted
scientific name of northern red oak is Quercus rubra L. [69]. The
epithet Q. rubra was formerly applied to several species of oak
including the southern red oak (Q. falcata) [13,69]. Some later
taxonomists rejected the appellation Q. rubra because of past ambiguity
and in 1915 identified northern red oak as Q. borealis [69,101]. In
1950, the name Q. rubra was restored [101]. Most current authorities
prefer the epithet Q. rubra, although Q. borealis is still occasionally
encountered in the literature. The following varieties are commonly
recognized [54]:

Quercus rubra var. borealis (Michx. f.) Farw.
Quercus rubra var. rubra

Northern red oak hybridizes with many oaks including scarlet oak (Q.
coccinea), shingle oak (Q. imbricata), swamp oak (Q. palustris), willow
oak (Q. phellos), scrub oak (Q. ilicifolia), northern pin oak (Q.
ellipsoidalis), black oak (Q. velutina), blackjack oak (Q. marilandica)
and Shumard oak (Q. shumardii) [69,93,101]. The following hybrid
products have been identified:

Q. X runcinata (A. DC.) Engelm. (Q. imbricata x Q. rubra)
Q. X heterophylla (Michx. f.) (Q. phellos x Q. rubra)
Q. X hawkinsiae Sudw. (Q. rubra x Q. velutina)
Q. X riparia Laughlin (Q. shumardii x Q. rubra)
Q. X columnaris Laughlin (Q. palustris x Q. rubra)
Q. X fernaldii (Q. ilicifolia x Q. rubra)
  • 93. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 11. Bonner, F. T.; Vozzo, J. A. 1987. Seed biology and technology of Quercus. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-66. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 21 p. [3248]
  • 69. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 101. Sander, Ivan L. 1990. Quercus rubra L. northern red oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 727-733. [13975]
  • 54. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954]
  • 13. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]

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Synonyms

Quercus borealis Michx. f.
Querucs borealis Michx. f. var. maxima (Marsh.) Sarg.
Quercus maxima (Marsh.) Ashe

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Common Names

northern red oak
red oak
common red oak
gray oak
eastern red oak
mountain red oak

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