American Red Oak

in Species Guide
Latin name : Quercus Rubra Family : Fagaceae Genus : Quercus

Recognizing American Red Oak

American Red Oak is recognized by:

  • Its smooth gray, slightly cracked bark
  • Its long alternate leaves with their pointed tips
  • Its purplish-brown acorns

Sites favored by American Red Oak


Annual average between 4-15°C. It withstands very cold temperatures. It is a heliophilous species but tolerates the shade.


Requires 800-2,000 mm of precipitation per year. It can survive periods when water is scarce and resists drought.


It ideally prefers cool, deep flinty or sandy soils. It does not tolerate chalky soils and does not do well in waterlogged or dry soils. The species is quite flexible when it comes to altitude (200-1,600 meters).

Root development of the cork oak

  • Deep and powerful.
  • Relatively wind resistant.

Plantation of American red oak

Density Spacing Benefits and drawbacks
1,100-2,000 plants/hectare 3 x 4 m Early, abundant fruiting and reproduction. Does not like competition from weeds.

N.B. The American red oak’s early, abundant fruiting and reproduction favors natural regeneration.

Final density: 80-100 stems/hectare

Growth and production of American red oak

  • Fast growth when young, gradually slows down over time.
  • Production of 5-15 m3/ha/year (depending on site).

American red oak wood

  • Pinkish-brown heart with fairly indistinct pinkish-gray sapwood.
  • Easy sawing. Precaution required when drying.
  • Heartwood with good mechanical qualities.
  • Excellent wood used in joinery and cabinetwork.
  • Also used for beams and firewood.
  • Trade name: Red oak


Economic view

American red oak suffers from the comparisons made with native species, which limits its introduction and understanding of the species’ qualities. Yet American red oak has some positive characteristics which should be taken into account when purchasing a forest of this species.

Its main quality is its resistance to storms, thanks to its powerful root development. It is widely used to produce traditional-style furniture or solid wood staircases.

The pinkish color of its wood adds to the appeal of buying an American red oak forest and it makes very decorative wood veneer.

American red oak therefore has its own place on the timber markets.
It certainly has a promising future so it is worth considering investment in an American red oak forest.

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