Pin Oak – Quercus palustris

Tree of the Week

14th January 2020 | Info

Common name: Pin Oak

Scientific name: Quercus palustris

Introduction: Pin Oak trees are a non-native deciduous species that was first introduced to the UK in the early 1800s. They are originally from North America, and despite being an Oak tree, they have a fast growth rate and can reach heights in excess of 20m.


Leaves: Green, shiny and sinuate. Leaves are deeply lobed and have distant toothing. In autumn, leaves predominantly turn to a yellowy-brown and hang-on for the duration of the season. 

Buds: Oval buds with a slightly pointed tip that are a reddish-brown colour. 

Bark: When young, Pin Oak trees have a relatively smooth bark that is a reddish-grey. As they mature, the bark then becomes more texturised and has a darker grey-brown colour. 

Form: Typically conical when younger but as they mature, they develop a looser spreading canopy. Mature trees have a distinctive style where their upper branches point upwards, their middle branches point outwards, and their lower branches droop downwards.


Quercus palustris are monoecious meaning they both male and female flowers on the same tree. Their female flowers are typically insignificant and flower in spring. Male catkins are yellowy-green and droop from when they form in the late spring. Once pollinated, almost round acorns form and have thin caps with small scales. These acorns then disperse naturally far from the parent tree and are germinated through flooding.

Growth Habit:

Fast growth rate despite the common ideology that Oaks are typically slow-growing!

Interesting Facts:

The name ‘Pin Oak’ is thought to have derived from the trees’ use hundreds of years ago. Historically, the hardwood of a Pin Oak tree was used to make pins that were used in the construction of buildings. Additionally, Pin Oaks can also be referred to as Swamp Oak, Water Oak or Swamp Spanish Oak is it thrives in waterlogged soil.

Ecological Importance:

Pin Oak trees provide a valuable food source to many wildlife such as songbirds, squirrels, small-rodents and most importantly, ducks.

Properties of Pine Oak Wood and its Uses:

Pin Oak wood has a coarse-grain and is typically light in colour. Due to staining and finishing well, the wood is often used in cabinetry, furniture, interior trimming and flooring.

Styling of Pine Oak/Where to Find Them:

Typically grown as landscaping trees. They are also particularly favourable in towns as they are relatively resistant to pollution.

Associated Pests and Diseases:

Pin Oaks can suffer from infestations of aphids and gall wasps. They have also been known to typically be affected by the Oak Decline and Oak Mildew diseases.


Pruning and Pruning Qualities: You should never prune a Pin Oak tree in April, May or June and should instead prune when the tree is in the dormant stage which is in the winter months. This prevents the tree from further damage and from diseases such as Oak Wilt from targeting the tree. Pin Oaks should regularly be checked for any dead or diseased branches (with particular attention being paid to the lower branches). 

Growth Rate after Pruning: Similar rate as pre-pruning.

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