Scarlet Oak

Acorns with concentric rings


Widely planted in Europe and North America, the scarlet oak is prized for its fall beauty and the generous amount of shade it provides.

More detail: Scarlet Oak as our Tree of the Month.

Common Name

Scarlet oak

Latin Name

Quercus coccinea


4 to 7 inches long with 7 to 9 narrow, bristle-tipped lobes separated by deep sinuses


Male flowers are borne on slender yellow-green catkins*; females are borne on very short axilliary spikes; both appear with the leaves in spring


Acorns are 1/2 to 1 inch long, with the cap covering half of the nut; cap scales are shiny; tip of acorn may have concentric rings or fine cracks


Moderately stout, reddish brown with multiple terminal buds; buds reddish brown, plump, pointed, and slightly angled


On young trees, grayish brown with smooth streaks; later, darker with irregular broad ridges and narrow furrows, especially near the base


Generally poor form, irregular crown, and many dead branches. A butt-swell* is often noticeable and useful in identification.


Usuallly grows 60 to 80 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide

Native Range

The native range for this species extends from Maine to Florida and west to Missouri


Medium deciduous tree

Seasonal Colors

Green in summer with brilliant red or scarlet color in autumn


Adapted to a wide variety of soils


Grows best in full sun, not very tolerant of shade

Similar Species

Pin oak, black oak, northern red oak, Shumard oak

Pests and Diseases

Scarlet oak is susceptible to oak wilt as well as heart rot, caused by Stereum gausapatum. Pests come primarily in the form of defoliators, but heavy infestations of the gouty oak gall wasp can cause the death of the tree.

Rebate Eligibility


Of Note

The wood is generally marketed as red oak, but is of inferior quality, being somewhat weaker and not forming as large as a tree.

The acorns of this tree are a favorite food for gray squirrels, chipmunks, mice and birds, especially blue jays.

Photo Credits

Jason Sturner 72