Quercus palustris commonly called pin oak is a medium sized deciduous oak of the red oak group that typically grows 50-70’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a broad pyramidal crown. Upper branches are ascending, middle branches are somewhat horizontal and lower branches are descending. In the wild, the lower branches of this tree are often shaded by other trees, eventually dying and breaking off leaving persistent pin-like stubs, hence the common name. Trunk diameter to 3’. Smooth gray-brown bark usually develops ridging with age. This is a tree of lowlands and bottomlands that is primarily native to the Midwest and mid-Atlantic States. It grows in woodlands, valleys, floodplains and stream margins and drier uplands. Fruits are rounded acorns (to 1/2” long), with shallow, saucer-shaped acorn cups that barely cover the acorn base. Acorns are an important source of food for wildlife. Glossy, dark green leaves (to 5” long) typically have 5 bristle-tipped lobes with deeply cut sinuses extending close to the midrib. Leaves turn deep red in fall. Pin oak is perhaps the most popular commercial oak of eastern North America, having been widely planted as both a street and a landscape tree. Easily grown in average, medium to wet, acidic soils in full sun. Prefers moist loams. Tolerates poorly drained soils. Tolerates some flooding. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Growing Instructions for the Pin Oak
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. Put the seeds in a ziplock bag. 3. Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 1-2 months. 4. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. 5. Sow the seeds 1 inch deep in the soil. 6. Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. 8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.