Create Your Garden

Quercus palustris (Pin Oak)

Pin Oak, Swamp Spanish Oak

AGM Award
Quercus palustris, Pink Oak, Swamp Spanish Oak, Red Leaves, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree

One of the easiest oak trees to grow and transplant, Quercus palustris, commonly known as the Pin Oak or Swamp Spanish Oak, is a deciduous tree renowned for its pyramidal shape, especially in its youth, and its distinctive, sharply lobed leaves. As it matures, its shape becomes more oval. This oak is recognized for its strong central trunk, slender, drooping branches in the lower part, and upright branches at the top.

Quercus palustris: An In-depth Look

Native: The Pin Oak belongs to the red oak group. It is native to the northeastern and north-central United States and southeastern Canada. It’s commonly found in lowland areas, alongside streams, and in floodplains.

Plant Type and Habit: This oak is a deciduous tree with a characteristic fast-growth habit. It has a distinctive branching pattern – lower branches tend to droop, middle branches are horizontal, and upper branches grow upright, giving it a unique, tiered appearance. This distinctive branching pattern can be admired in winter when its naked silhouette graces the landscape.

Size: Quercus palustris typically grows 50-70 feet tall (15-21 m), with a spread of about 40-60 feet (12-18 m). Its rapid growth rate allows it to quickly attain a significant size, making it a prominent feature in any landscape.

Flowers: Pin Oaks produce small, yellowish-green flowers. The male flowers are elongated catkins, while female flowers are less conspicuous and are found on spikes near the leaf axils. These monoecious trees (both male and female flowers on the same plant) bloom in spring.

Fruits: The tree produces small acorns, about 0.5 inches in size, with a shallow, saucer-shaped cap covering one-fourth of the nut. These acorns are a valuable food source for wildlife and mature in the fall, approximately 18 months after pollination. However, the Pin Oak may take up to 15-20 years before the first crop of acorns is produced.

Foliage: The foliage of Pin Oak is one of its most striking features. The leaves are 3-6 inches long, with 5-7 deep lobes, each ending in pointed tips. They are glossy green on the upper surface and paler beneath. The leaves turn russet-red to bright crimson in autumn, offering spectacular fall color. The leaves tend to remain on the tree well into the winter.

Bark: The trunk of Quercus palustris is straight and tall, with smooth, grayish-brown bark when young. As the tree ages, the bark becomes more ridged and furrowed. The strong central trunk supports the distinctive branching pattern of the tree.

Hardiness: Quercus palustris is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. It adapts well to a variety of soil types but prefers acidic, moist to wet soils. It’s tolerant of urban conditions, including air pollution and compacted soils, making it a popular choice for urban and suburban planting.

Uses: Handsome in all seasons and tolerant of many soil conditions, heat, and air pollution, the Pin Oak is highly popular in eastern North America, having been widely planted as both a shade and street tree. It’s ideal for large lawns, parks, and public gardens. The wood of Pin Oak is commercially valuable for timber and is used in construction, flooring, and furniture. Due to its adaptability to wet soils, it’s also used in riparian plantings for soil stabilization and water management.

Award: Recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society for its outstanding qualities

Wildlife: Oak trees support over 800 caterpillar species in the United States. They are host plants for over 500 species of butterflies, including the Striped Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, Edwards Hairstreak, Red Banded Hairstreak, White M Hairstreak, Mourning Cloak, and Horace’s Duskywing. Birds and mammals, including deer and squirrels, consume the acorns.

Deer and Rabbits: While young Pin Oaks may be susceptible to browsing by deer and rabbits, mature trees generally face fewer problems. Protective measures like tree guards can be employed to safeguard saplings. However, its acorns are often foraged by deer, making it a beneficial species for supporting local wildlife.

Toxicity: The leaves and acorns contain tannic acid, which can be toxic to horses and some pets if ingested in large quantities.

Invasiveness: This species is not considered invasive in its native range.

How to Grow and Care for a Pin Oak Tree

Light: Prefers full sun for optimal growth. Tolerates partial shade but may impact leaf color and density.

Soil: Adapts to a range of soil types but thrives in acidic, moist, well-drained soils. Avoid highly alkaline soils to prevent chlorosis (yellowing of leaves). Pin Oak tolerates poorly drained soils.

Water: Requires consistent moisture, especially important during dry spells and for young trees.

Fertilizer: Fertilize young trees annually for healthy growth. Mature trees typically do not require regular fertilization.

Pruning: Prune in late winter to early spring to shape and remove dead or crossing branches. Avoid excessive pruning, which can stress the tree.

Propagation: Propagated mainly through seeds (acorns). Best sown in fall, directly in the desired location. Grow your own oak tree: a step-by-step guide to planting acorns.

Pests and Diseases: Insect pests include gypsy moth, galls, scale insects, and tent caterpillars. Disease problems include oak wilt, oak leaf blister, anthracnose, canker, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Learn more about the pests and diseases of oak trees.

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 8
Heat Zones 5 - 8
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Fagaceae
Genus Quercus
Common names Pin Oak, Oak
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 50' - 70'
(15.2m - 21.3m)
Spread 40' - 60'
(12.2m - 18.3m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy
Native Plants United States, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Quercus (Oak)
Not sure which Quercus (Oak) to pick?
Compare Now

Alternative Plants to Consider

Quercus douglasii (Blue Oak)
Quercus chrysolepis (Canyon Live Oak)
Quercus myrtifolia (Myrtle Oak)
Quercus velutina (Black Oak)
Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak)
Quercus phellos (Willow Oak)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Roots of Life: Exploring the Diverse World of Trees
Green Canopy, Better World: Exploring the Benefits of Trees
Trees that Invite Wildlife to Your Garden
Spectacular Trees for Vibrant Fall Colors: A Gardener’s Guide
Quercus (Oak) – Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
Grow Your Own Oak Tree: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Acorns
8 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Plant an Oak Tree
Native Oak Trees: A Must-Have for Your Landscape
Native Plant Alternatives to Quercus acutissima (Sawtooth Oak)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
Buy Plants

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 8
Heat Zones 5 - 8
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Fagaceae
Genus Quercus
Common names Pin Oak, Oak
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 50' - 70'
(15.2m - 21.3m)
Spread 40' - 60'
(12.2m - 18.3m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy
Native Plants United States, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Quercus (Oak)
Not sure which Quercus (Oak) to pick?
Compare Now

Gardening Ideas

Plant Calculator

How many Quercus palustris (Pin Oak) do I need for my garden?

Input your garden space dimensions

Your Shopping List

Plant Quantity
Quercus palustris (Pin Oak) N/A Buy Plants

Please Login to Proceed

You Have Reached The Free Limit, Please Subscribe to Proceed

Subscribe to Gardenia

To create additional collections, you must be a paid member of Gardenia
  • Add as many plants as you wish
  • Create and save up to 25 garden collections
Become a Member

Plant Added Successfully

You have Reached Your Limit

To add more plants, you must be a paid member of our site Become a Member

Update Your Credit
Card Information

Cancel

Create a New Collection

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

    You have been subscribed successfully

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Find your Hardiness Zone

    Find your Heat Zone

    Find your Climate Zone