Of all the Oaks, Red Oak, or Quercus rubra, is the most distinguished for its bold, clean trunk and branches. The bark, striated in long vertical sections, clearly shows the contrast between the smooth, raised surface and the darker-colored area in between. This structure is especially handsome in the winter. The early spring growth's dusty bronze-red color can be as handsome as the spring displays on other flowering trees.
Red Oak is a large tree, growing up to 70' or more with an equal spread. One interesting fact about Red Oak is that it may not produce a full crop of acorns before reaching 40 years of age! The acorns it does produce are among the first to ripen, providing an important early food source for wildlife.
I am becoming increasingly impressed with the performance and longevity of Red Oak. It doesn't like heavily compacted soil, but otherwise, it's a reliable urban performer even tolerating Black Walnut. With it's bold outline and clean trunk and branches, it makes an impressive silhouette against a sunrise or sunset.
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