Types of Oak Trees with Their Bark and Leaves

Oaks, which belong to the genus Quercus, can be found in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and the species also includes some evergreen varieties.

This article can be helpful if you are seeking the ideal tree for your yard, or if you are interested in learning how to distinguish between the various species of oak trees.

Varieties Of Oak Tree

Both white and red oaks can be found in the United States.

For the red type, their bark will be more black in color and their leaves will be pointy and have lobes and bristles, as well.

Instead, white oak bark is usually grey, and its leaves are spherical and without bristles.

When presented with an oak tree, glance at its leaves to see if they have bristles or not; this is one of the easiest ways to tell the two species apart.

Let’s take a closer look at these two terms and see if we can better understand them.

Red Oak

Frequently, red oaks will be covered in lobed leaves; these leaves will typically have pointed tips and little bristles on the tops of their points.

In general, it takes around two full years for red oak acorns to mature, despite the fact that their flavor is not particularly appetizing.

Additionally, the length of a red oak leaf will often range somewhere between 12 and 22 centimeters.

White Oak

Alternately, white oaks can have leaves that are lobed and end in rounded points rather than pointed ones. These leaves do not have any barbs on them either.

It takes only one year for the acorns that are growing on white oak to fully mature, and the flavor of these acorns is significantly more acceptable, being rather sweet, or sometimes harsh.

The length of the leaves that develop on these trees is comparable to that of the leaves that develop on red oaks.

Oak Bark

We must now take into account the trees’ bark as well. In contrast to the rough, silvery bark of an older tree, the smooth, silvery bark of a young oak has a more golden hue.

As these trees age, their bark begins to split, resulting in familiar grooves and ridges.

Some oak trees, such as the common red oak, have bark that is grey or even black in color depending on the variety of oak.

Oak Leaves

Finally, there are the trees’ leaves. The lobes of their leaves are often used to identify them. The leaf tips of white oaks are rounded, while those of red oaks are pointed.

Although the lobes and tips of white oak leaves have no bristles, they may also have circular serrations on the edges of their leaves.

Leaves of red oak are often pointy, with bristles on the tips. Red oaks have a wider range of leaf shapes; some have a toothed edge, while others may be smooth; this means that leaf shapes will be more varied.

Acorns

White oaks have substantially quicker maturation times for their acorns than red oaks do.

While it takes two years for red oak acorns to mature, white oak acorns can be harvested after only one year.

The acorns of red oaks are significantly larger than those of white oaks, which may be because red oaks take much longer to develop.

The flavor of white acorns is sweet, whereas the taste of red acorns is unpleasantly bitter.

White acorns are more appetizing than red oak acorns.

How To Identify Oak Trees 

Check the bark of a tree to determine whether or not it is an oak by looking for deep fissures that give the impression that the tree is covered in scales. Oak trees have this characteristic.

The hue of the mark left by oak will range from a color that is white-gray to one that is almost black.

Oak trees can also be recognized by their leaves, which are lobed and have either pointy or rounded ends at the very end.

This characteristic helps to distinguish oaks from other types of trees.

Take a look at the attention to detail.

This requires you to be familiar with the appearance of every subspecies of oak so that you can recognize them one by one.

Let’s help you.

1. Red Oak Types

To begin, there are red oaks.

Pin Oak

This species of tree has the potential to grow to a height of up to 22 meters.

Since their branches grow in such a way that they hang downward, the trunk of the tree is almost unnoticeable as a result of this growth pattern.

The upper canopy of this tree is easily recognizable due to the spreading growth throughout it.

Bark

When the pin oak tree is young, the bark will have a reddish-gray color; however, as time passes, the bark will become rougher and more grey in color as the tree ages.

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Leaves

The leaves of these trees are glossy and a magnificent shade of green, and they have deep lobes and a pointy tip.

Each lobe will have a few teeth attached to it. These leaves are also hairless in appearance.

2. Water Oak

It is possible for a water oak to reach a height of thirty meters, and the tree’s leaves do not begin to fall off until the middle of winter.

Their leaves are easy to recognize due to the fact that they have a drab green hue, are arranged on a rounded stem, and will develop in clusters.

Bark

The bark of these trees will initially be smooth; but, as the age of the tree, the bark will become scaly and almost completely black in color.

Leaves

Their leaves can be spoon-shaped, circular, or even oblong, and they can also have three lobes and bristles on the tips of their lobes. Their leaves do not have a regular appearance.

3. Black Oak

A black oak tree can also reach a height of 30 meters when fully mature.

These oaks have exceptionally dense foliage, which will eventually grow into a crown that is almost completely flat.

These trees are easily recognized by the deeply lobed, glossy leaves that they possess.

This particular type of oak has a distinguishing characteristic, as the inner bark of the tree is orange while the bark on the outside of the tree is a dark grey color.

Bark

Fissures of a very shallow depth will be found in the bark of these trees.

In addition to that, the bark of this tree is a scaly gray-black tint.

Leaves

In addition, the leaves of the black oak tree will be glossy and dark green in color.

Notches in the shape of a U will be found on the leaves, and the lobes of the leaf will be pointy.

You’ll find very fine hairs tucked away beneath the leaves of the plant.

4. Cherry bark Oak

This kind of tree can grow to a height of up to 40 meters, making it one of the tallest.

It should not come as a surprise that it is also one of the fastest growing.

The bark of this tree, which is similar in appearance to that of a black cherry tree, is whence the tree derives its name.

Bark

These trees have dark grey bark that is scaly and may be identified by the very fine ridges that run over their surface.

Leaves

One of the most obvious characteristics of these trees is the disorganized arrangement of their leaves.

These leaves have lobes that are arranged in a haphazard fashion.

However, if you examine a leaf more carefully, you will notice that it is glossy, dark green, and smooth and that it has very fine hairs on the underside.

5. Northern Red Oak

It is possible for the Northern red oak, often called Champion oak, to reach a height of up to 28 meters, and in some cases much higher.

Although they are tall and erect and have lobed foliage, the leaves of this particular red oak have fewer lobes than the leaves of other red oaks.

In North America, the most common type of oak can be found in this particular species. Because of this, its name.

Bark

The bark of these trees is distinctive in that it contains glittering stripes embedded among the cracks on its surface.

The hue of its bark can range from a dark brown to a reddish-gray tone at times.

Leaves

The leaves of these trees have a dark green color and are lobed and smooth, with very small teeth at the tips of the lobes.

6. Scarlet Oak

The height of scarlet oak trees typically ranges from 20 to 30 meters, making them medium-sized trees overall.

They have an appearance that is comparable to that of pin oaks and even, on occasion, black oaks.

You will be able to tell the two species apart by the distinctive shapes of their leaves.

Scarlet oaks feature a notch in the shape of a C, as opposed to the U-shaped notches found on other oak species.

Bark

The bark of a scarlet oak has scaly ridges and very fine fractures, while the tree itself has an asymmetrical and uneven shape.

Leaves

These leaves contain notches in the shape of a C, and the tips are bristling and serrated.

7. Southern Red Oak

The red oaks of the south are also referred to as Spanish oaks. They require sandy soil and enough sunlight in order to reach heights of 25 to 30 meters.

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of these oaks is the size and color of their acorns, which are smaller and more orange-brown in color than those of other types of oaks.

Bark

The bark of these oak trees is very dark grey in color and is fashioned in the form of plates and ridges.

Leaves

The leaves of southern red oaks are often very narrow and have very deep lobes with very vast spaces in between each lobe.

8. Japanese Oak

The Japanese oak is not only the world’s tiniest species of oak but also the only evergreen oak. In most cases, they are scarcely more than 14 meters in height.

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They have narrow leaves that are oval in shape and smooth to the touch.

The smoothness of their bark is another feature that sets them apart from other types of oak trees.

Bark

These trees have a smooth bark that is dark grey in color and has a rather smooth texture.

Because of this, it is immediately distinguishable from other varieties of oak, making it the most distinctive characteristic of the species.

Leaves

Our tree is quite easy to identify, and it is possible that it is the easiest to identify of all of the ones on this list. It has glossy green ovate leaves that are delicately rounded at the tip and have a long point.

9. Laurel Oak

Laurel oaks are deciduous trees that can reach a height of 24 meters and have a semi-evergreen appearance.

They are found naturally in the eastern part of the United States, and the wet soil is ideal for their growth.

Because of this, they are also frequently referred to as swamp laurel oaks in addition to their other names.

Bark

The bark of these trees is a dark brown color and features very shallow fissures and rough edges all throughout its surface.

Leaves

The leaves on this tree have the shape of diamonds, and occasionally you may see that they are lobed as well. The moniker “diamond-leaf” is frequently used in this kind of tree.

10. Willow Oak

Willow oaks tend to be of medium size, but they can to a height of up to 30 meters.

They develop quite rapidly, gaining approximately 0.6 meters in height each year.

When they have reached their full maturity, they will also have a crown that is extremely dense.

Bark

The bark of these trees is tough and a greyish brown color; as the trees get older, the bark will begin to age and develop fissures.

Leaves

The leaves of this tree are pointed, lanceolate, and smooth. Additionally, the lanceolate leaves are narrow.

Because of these leaves, they will be easily distinguishable from other oak trees thanks to their unique appearance.

This is due to the absence of lobes and teeth on its body.

11. Californian Oak

The bark of these oak trees, which are evergreen and sprawling in appearance, is grey when the tree is in its younger years; however, as the tree ages, the bark will become highly wrinkled and ridged.

The leaves are glossy and a rich, dark green color and the acorns are quite pointed and slender.

It has a branching, rounded crown, and its habitat in California. You may identify it by its appearance. It reaches a height of about 25 meters in its lifetime.

The egg-like appearance of the acorns is one of the characteristics that help to distinguish this species from others.

The nuts on the interior are pretty black as well. It is unusual compared to other oaks since its acorns can be gathered in as little as seven months.

Its leaves have more of a holly-like appearance than an oak-like appearance. They have a shiny green appearance and an oval form.

These leaves will sprout in the spring and eventually reach a length of about 2.7 centimeters.

During the time that it is flowering, it will also develop strands of stems that have yellowish-green flowers on them.

Bark

The bark of these trees is initially smooth but will eventually develop ridges as the tree ages.

Leaves

The leaves of this tree have an oval shape, and their spines are pointed and have a leathery feel to them.

12. Turkey Oak

This is a relatively young oak tree, and at most, it will grow to be 10 meters tall. They inhabit low-quality oil in areas where other types of oaks cannot survive.

As they get older, they develop a rounded crown.

Bark

The bark of these trees has a dark grey color and an uneven pattern.

Leaves

The leaves of the turkey oak are a dark green color and have highly pronounced lobes that give the leaf an appearance similar to that of a turkey’s foot at the leaf’s tip.

During the fall, these trees take on a reddish-brown hue.

2. White Oak Types

Let’s move on and have a look at some white oaks.

1. Eastern White Oak

The Eastern White can grow to be as tall as 30 meters in their lifetime.

Their canopy is expansive in size and reach. The hardwood that this tree produces is highly sought after.

Bark

This oak’s bark is a white-gray color and has very thin fissures all over its surface.

As a distinguishing trait, you should seek scales that overlap one another about halfway up its trunk.

Leaves

The leaves of an eastern white have deep lobes and an obovate shape with a rounded apex.

2. English Oak

These trees are often referred to as “common oaks,” and they may reach a height of up to 21 meters.

You can identify them by their huge crown spread and their thick trunks, which can reach a diameter of up to 12 meters in certain cases!

Bark

Deep cracks may be found all over the bark and branches of this tree. These fissures cover the entire tree.

Leaves

The leaves of this tree are quite little and rounded, and their margins are extremely smooth.

They take on the traditional appearance of a tree that bears nut-bearing acorns.

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3. Post-Oak

Post oaks are more of a shrub than a tree, reaching a height of no more than 15 meters.

However, they do have a substantial trunk, therefore you should search for a tiny tree that has a massive crown and a trunk that is thick.

Bark

The bark of a post oak tree is a pale grey color.

Leaves

The leaves of this tree have a lobe or two, but not very many, and they are arranged in a cross pattern.

4. Bur Oak

Bur oaks are one of the tallest trees, with an average height of 30 meters and a maximum height of 50 meters.

They are enormous not just in terms of their density but also in terms of their diameter, which can reach up to three meters.

They have a modest growth rate and can typically be found in the United States of America and Canada.

Bark

Bur oaks often have bark that is a medium grey color, and it is typically scaled and ridged in a manner that runs vertically up the trunk.

Leaves

The leaves of this tree will typically have an unusual shape, and they will frequently have lobes that are approximately half the length of the leaf.

5. Sand Post Oak

This is perhaps the smallest species of oak, as it can only grow to a maximum height of 12 meters.

It looks very much like a shrub, and the sandy soil in the southeastern United States is where you would most often find it growing.

Bark

Sand post oaks have a grey bark that is characterized by tiny cracks and ridges that have a faint scaly quality to them.

Leaves

Its leaves are quite circular, and even the tips are rounded.

6. Oregon White

These can reach heights of up to 30 meters and can be found throughout the Northwestern coast of the United States.

These trees are also capable of growing as shrubs, in which form they typically reach a height of five meters.

Bark

The bark of these trees is silvery grey in color and deeply furrowed, with conspicuous ridges.

Leaves

The tips of their glossy green leaves are rounded, and the sinuses that run up their sides are in the shape of a U.

7. Sessile Oak

The majority of these trees may be found in Europe, where they can attain a height of forty meters. Additionally, it is the most often used oak in Ireland.

In the fall, the olive green color of its leaves will transform into a golden yellow hue.

Bark

When this tree is young, the bark is a smooth grey color, but as it gets older, it will start to furrow.

Leaves

The leaves of this tree have lobes and teeth that are spaced out in a sinuous pattern.

8. Chestnut Oak

The majority of the tree’s foliage is concentrated near the crown of the chestnut oak, which is a medium-sized tree that can reach heights of up to 22 meters.

Bark

It has a distinctive bark that is characterized by very deep fissures and prominent ridges.

Leaves

The leaves on these oaks grow closely together and have bristling edges; however, there are no lobes on the leaves themselves.

They do have veins that are in the shape of a V, though.

9. Holm Oak

Evergreens that can reach a height of 28 meters, and holm oaks can live for hundreds of years. It is also known as a holly oak in some circles.

Bark

The bark of this tree is a dark grayish-black color and features very fine fissures that look more like a string of cracks.

Leaves

It has glossy, elongated leaves that are completely devoid of any lobes.

10. Chinkapin Oak

Chinkapins can reach heights of up to 33 meters and have branches that emerge extremely near the earth.

It is comparable to the chestnut oak, however, its thorns are sharp instead of rounded like the chestnut oaks.

Bark

This tree has a flaky bark that is grey in color and has fine fissures all over it.

Leaves

There is a striking resemblance between the leaves of this tree and those of the chestnut tree; however, these leaves are more pointed and lack bristles

Conclusion

Even though we have included a considerable number of oak trees on our list today, there are still a great many that we haven’t discussed.

There are so many different kinds of oak trees around the globe that it would be impossible for us to mention them all here.

On the other hand, we hope that this list has been of assistance to you in identifying these oaks and that you will now be able to determine which tree is white oak and which tree is red oak.

Keep in mind that you should always refer to the leaves and the bark of a tree.

If you are still at a loss, researching the oaks that are native to the region in which you are now located may provide some insight into the species of an oak tree that you are looking at.

If you are unsure if an oak tree is a red oak or a white oak, look at its acorns.

We could propose that you take a bite out of one, but we do not recommend that you do so since if it is red oak, the acorn won’t have a very pleasant flavor.

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