Pin Oak
Quercus palustris Muenchh.

Pin Oak: Full Size

Also known as Swamp Oak.

Mature Size: 50 to 70 feet in height and 1 to 2 feet in diameter.

Form: Straight trunk with pyramid-like crown; lower branches droop, middle branches are almost horizontal, and upper branches ascend slightly; numerous spur-like twigs give the tree a spiky appearance.

Habitat: Poorly drained river edges and floodplains, typically on clay soils.


Pin Oak: Leaves

Alternate, simple, 3 to 5 inches long, 2 to 5 inches wide, with 5 to 9 pointed lobes separated by variable, but often wide, sinuses extending nearly to the midvein; scarlet fall color.


Males in slender, drooping, yellow-green catkins; females are reddish green, on short spikes; both appearing in spring with the leaves.


Pin Oak: Fruit

½ inch, rounded, striped acorn, flattened at cap end; up to one third enclosed by a thin, saucer-like cap; matures in two seasons.


Pin Oak: Bark

On young trees, smooth and gray-brown; later developing narrow, dark gray, flat-topped ridges separated by very shallow furrows.


Slender, red-brown, shiny; end buds clustered, small, pointed and chestnut brown.

Values and Uses

The wood is hard and heavy, but somewhat knotty. It is used for rough lumber and firewood. The acorns are eaten by waterfowl, turkeys, jays, woodpeckers and squirrels. Pin oak is a popular landscape tree because of its fast growth, ease of transplanting, tolerance of urban stresses and good fall color.

Did You Know?

This tree's common name comes from its pin-like twigs. Pin oak can tolerate flooding during its dormant season and may form pure stands in poorly drained, low-lying areas.