New Jersey State Tree
Northern Red Oak (common name)
Quercus rubra (scientific name)
New Jersey's state tree proclamation specifically lists Quercus borealis maxima, otherwise known as northern red oak. However, botanical nomenclature can change, especially with oaks, andQuercus borealis has now been reclassified as Quercus rubra.
Also known as common red oak, eastern red oak, mountain red oak, and gray oak, this tree is widespread in the east, and ranges quite far into the southern states and west to the plains states.
This is a medium to large tree, normally reaching 65 to 98 feet (20-30 m) in height, and sometimes growing as tall as 160 feet (48.8 m). Its diameter is normally 2 to 3 feet (61-91 cm), but on extremely favorable sites, can reach up to 8 feet (2.4 m). The tree's bark has ridges that appear somewhat shiny. Its leaves are five to eight inches long, with deep lobes with pointed tips often extending into bristles. In fall, the leaves turn bright red. Acorns are up to one inch long with flat, shallow caps. Acorns are approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length, with a shallow, saucer-shaped cup.
Height: up to 160 ft (49 m)
Diameter: up to 8 ft (2.5 m)
Bark: young: gray to grayish-brown with shallow vertical furrows; mature: becomes checkered
Fruit: acorns 0.8-1.3 in (20-33 mm) in length, with a shallow, saucer-shaped cup, contains a large, white, bitter kernel
Leaves: bristle-tipped, 7-11 waxy lobes, 4.5-8.5 in (11-22 cm), turn red in fall
Northern red oak is the tallest and fastest growing of the oaks, normally reaching about 100 years of age. Trees may live as long as 500 years.
Mean annual temperatures in northern red oak's habitat range from 40°F (4°C) in the north to 60°F (16°C) in the south. Mean annual precipitation varies from about 30 inches (76 cm) in the Northwest to about 80 inches (203 cm) in the southern Appalachians. It thrives in sunlight and well-drained soil.
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE
White-tailed deer commonly browse leaves and young seedlings. Elk, hares, cottontail rabbits, and moose also feed on northern red oak. Pocket gophers occasionally feed on the roots of seedlings.
The white-footed mouse, eastern chipmunk, white-tailed deer, several types of squirrels, and deer mice, as well as wild turkeys, a variety of woodpeckers, and many other birds, consume northern red oak acorns. Northern red oak acorns were once an important food for Native Americans.
Northern red oak provides good cover for a wide variety of birds and mammals. In some areas, young oaks may represent the only brushy winter cover.
OTHER USES AND VALUES
This is one of the best of the oaks for lumber. Northern red oak is an important source of hardwood lumber. Its wood is heavy, hard, strong, coarse-grained, and at least moderately durable. When properly dried and treated, oak wood glues well, machines very well, and accepts a variety of finishes. The wood of northern red oak has been used to make railroad ties, fenceposts, veneer, furniture, cabinets, paneling, flooring, caskets, and pulpwood. Northern red oak has a high fuel value and is an excellent firewood.
It also finds significant use as an ornamental shade tree, since it is more tolerant of transplanting than many other oaks, as well as tolerating pollution and compacted soil well.
Northern red oak generally first bears fruit at 25 years of age, although most trees do not produce acorns in abundance until 50 years of age. Some may produce acorns as early as 10 years of age. Seeds of northern red oak are primarily dispersed by birds and mammals.
Northern red oak commonly sprouts vigorously after plants are damaged or killed by fire or mechanical injury. Small poles, saplings, and even seedlings can sprout if cut or burned.
New Jersey's state tree grows on a variety of moderately dry to moist sites. It occurs in rich, moist woods, on sandy plains, rocky outcrops, stable areas between dunes, and the outer edges of floodplains. Northern red oak is most common on north- and east-facing slopes, and typically grows on lower and middle slopes, in coves, ravines, and on valley floors. It often forms groupings of pure northern red oak.
Northern red oak occurs in Canada's Atlantic Provinces, from Minnesota south to eastern Nebraska and Oklahoma, and east to Arkansas, southern Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Outliers are found in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Northern red oak grows at relatively low elevations in the Smoky Mountains. Elsewhere in its range, it is found at 800 feet (244 m) up to 5,500 feet (1,680 m).
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U.S. Forest Service
U.S. National Arboretum
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Author: World Trade Press