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Red and White Oaks

Winter is a great time to appreciate the majesty and beauty of oak trees. Many of these long-lived large trees have endured centuries of challenging weather and the expansion of urban development.

Oaks are divided into two major groups – the white and red oaks.

The red oak group includes red, scarlet, black and pin oaks. These have pointed lobes and their acorns take two seasons to mature.

White oaks include white, bur, swamp white and live oak, have rounded lobes and their acorns mature at the end of the first season.

Another difference exists inside the tree. The water carrying vessels eventually become plugged on the white oak. This allows white oak logs to float when placed in water. Those of the red oak remain open so this wood sinks. More importantly this internal difference makes the red oak more susceptible to decay and oak wilt disease.

A bit more information:  Acorns are a favorite food of a variety of birds and other wildlife. The oak tree is also a host plant for the caterpillars of several butterfly varieties.


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