High in the mountains on dry, rocky ridges and inhospitable growing conditions, the Scarlet Oak flourishes. Because of its lower lumber value, foresters consider this a second rate species. In the landscape, however, it is one of our best oaks, utilizing its ability to thrive in difficult soils to also overcome the challenges in urban and suburban environments. Often misidentified as Pin Oak, it is much more tolerant of alkaline soils. The foliage is rich, dark green in the growing season and an outstanding scarlet red in the fall. Similar in size to the other large native oaks, maturing in the landscape at about 70' high and 30-40' wide.
If Quercus alba is the standard by which we measure all trees in the white oak group, Quercus coccinea ought to be the standard by which all trees in the black oak group are measured. There are several close contenders but the brilliance of the fall color puts the Scarlet Oak ahead of the rest. Best use is as a specimen shade tree.
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