Quercus palustris, also known as pin oak, is a fast growing deciduous oak tree. The pin oak, despite its annual leaf drop and occasional (every couple of years) drop of acorns, is a desirable, attractive, mid-sized, symmetrical tree. You will find information on other Quercus Varieties, such as the Scarlet oak, live oak, and English oak, in other articles. Check them all out so you will know which one will be the best oak tree for your yard.
This fast growing tree looks pyramidal with top limbs reaching upward, middle limbs growing horizontaly, and the widespread bottom limbs drooping gracefully. It is no surprise that Quercus palustris thrives in areas of wetlands and glacial till near Great Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean carved millions of years ago by the glaciers.
Growing Quercus Palustris
From the East to the Midwest, pin oaks occur naturally on such sites. Pin oak produces 3”- 6” leaves, shiny dark green on top, light green below, with 5-9 deeply cut lobes with a U-shaped space between each. Pin oaks reach heights of 60-70’ high by 30-50’ wide. Its fall color, which ranges from scarlet red to brown, is inconsistent. The smooth, dark grayish-brown bark acquires shallow fissure with age. Male flowers on catkins and female flowers on spikes appear when the leaves unfurl. The 1/2” acorns have short, flattish caps.
Pin oaks transplant well because of their fibrous roots, which are more developed on older trees. It requires full sun and prefers moist, acid, well-drained soils, but tolerates swampy conditions and clay soils if not compacted. Beware of chlorosis (seen as light green leaves with dark green veins), a result of iron deficiency on soils with a high pH.
Pin Oaks in the Landscape
Swamp oaks, pin oaks, are great shade trees for big lawns. It has origins in wet woods of eastern U.S. And southeastern Canada. It is hardy in Zones 4-8.
Best Quercus Varieties to Choose
Quercus palustris ‘Pringrenn’ (Green Pillar) a fastigate (narrow columnar) form with maroon fall color. It is a great alternative for narrow city gardens or for its striking architectural shape. It may also be sold as Emerald Pillar. This oak measures 50-60’h x 12’-15’ wide.