Pin oak is not drought tolerant.

There are several oaks, especially natives, that do not need much more water than they get from rain. Pin oak, Quercus palustris, is not one of them. It is naturally endemic to areas that are damp or swampy for part of the year. It is more tolerant than others are to lawn irrigation, but is also more sensitive to drought.

Compared to other oaks, pin oak grows fast while young. It can get two stories tall in about ten years. Then, it takes more than twice as long to double in size. Old trees do not get much more than fifty feet tall, with trunks nearly three feet wide.

The deciduous foliage turns as brown as a grocery bag in autumn, and may linger late into winter, or until it gets replaced by new foliage in spring. The distinctively deeply lobed leaves are about two to five inches long, and about two thirds as wide. Each leaf has five or seven lobes. Each lobe has five to seven teeth.


4 thoughts on “Pin Oak

    1. Thank you. That is more information than I can provide. Pin oaks are rather rare here, so it is not easy to say what is typical for them. The only white oaks here are the valley oaks, which are too irregular and gnarly to compare to any other oak. There are almost no scarlet oaks here.

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  1. Pin oaks are almost horridculture for me, their crowns get so dense (bread and butter for aborists I suppose!) and as you say the way they retain their leaves all means they shade so much in the winter (leaf holding’s not always bad as it makes for great hedges using Fagus sylvatica).

    Often specified by designers who’ve only read about them in a book – there are so many other worthy oaks.

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    1. It seems that many who are more familiar with it dislike it. Landscape designers sometimes prescribe it without considering how unavailable it is here. There are a few of them around, but I do not know if I could find one at a nursery if I needed to. Since most so-called ‘gardeners’ kill other oaks by irrigating too generously, the pin oak has potential to be more appropriate to refined landscapes than any of the native oaks are. However, it can develop unappealingly irregular form, and is not happy in alkaline soil.


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