Pin Oak Tree

pin oak tree
Pin Oak Tree (Quercus palustris)

The pin oak tree (Quercus palustris) is a plant from the genus of oak trees in the family of the beech plants (Fagaceae). In temperate latitudes, it is often used as an ornamental plant in parks and avenues.

Appearance, Bark, And Leaves

The swamp oak grows as a deciduous tree that, at good locations at the age of 30, reaches stature heights of around 20 meters and trunk diameter (chest height diameter) of 28 centimeters on average. In exceptional cases, old specimens reach heights of up to 37 meters and trunk diameters of up to 1.5 meters and above. They develop crowns of 8 to 20 meters in diameter. Marsh oaks are very fast-growing but form a short-lived species that usually only reaches the age of 80 to 100 years. Single copies can live for 150 to 200 years. The roots of the swamp oak form a flat heart root system.

The thin bark for oak species is pink on the inside and greyish-brown on the outside with wide furrows. The bark of the branches is reddish-brown and becomes bald early. The brown to reddish-brown end buds are egg-shaped with a length of 3 to 5 mm; they are bald or have few fine hairs at the tip.

The alternate and spirally arranged leaves on the branches are divided into petiole and leaf blade. The bald petiole is 20 to 60 mm long. The simple, with a length of 5 to 16 cm and a width of 5 to 12 cm elliptical to elongated leaf blade has five to seven leaf lobes and the leaf margin has 10 to 30 tips. Bald on both leaf surfaces, except for a few groups of woolly hair on the protruding main nerves on the underside of the leaf. In autumn, the leaves turn reddish to scarlet and are therefore very decorative.

pin oak tree



The marsh oak (Quercus palustris) is a popular park tree and originates from eastern North America. It belongs to the genus of oak (Quercus) in the beech family (Fagaceae) and is also known as the Spree Oak or Nail Oak.


Swamp oaks are rather small in comparison to other representatives of their genus with a growth height of up to 20 metres. Their cone-shaped crown can grow between 10 and 20 metres wide, depending on space and cut. A flat heart-root system anchors the extremely fast-growing tree in the ground. Swamp oaks only live to be about 150 years old. Special features are the reddish-brown colouring of the branch bark, its very straight trunk and the great autumn colouring.


The leaves of the marsh oak alternately sit spirally on stems up to 6 centimetres long around the branch. The leaves are typically deep lobed and grow to about 16 centimetres long and 12 centimetres wide. The five to seven leaf lobes are glabrous and have a pointed edge. The scarlet red autumn colouring of the swamp oak makes it a great eye-catcher at the end of the year.


The flowering period is in spring at the same time as the leaf shoots. The swamp oak is single-sexed ( monoecious ). The male, kitten-shaped inflorescences hang in the leaf axils on branches from last year. At this year’s shoot, the female flowers are in the leaf axils on a short shaft. The female flowers have dark red scars. Pollination is carried out by the wind.

The cup-shaped fruit cup (cupula), with a height of 3 to 6 mm and a diameter of 9.5 to 16 mm, is hairy to fluffy on the outside and only covers a quarter of the glans. The remaining over the winter on the tree, bald Eichel ( nut fruit ) having a length of 1 to 1.6 cm and a diameter of 0.9 to 1.5 cm spherical to egg-shaped; it is often clearly striped. The acorns spread from September to early December in the year following fertilization.

Together with the leaves, the flowers appear in May. The yellow, male flowers appear on the previous year’s wood and are catkin-shaped, the female flowers of the monoecious plant are in the leaf axils of this year’s branches.

In the fall Pin Oak Tree will transform into deep purples, reds, bronze and scarlet colorations. The Pin Oak transplants with very little stress. The leaves have five distinct lobes and are typically a dark deep green color. The trunk will be defined from ground to the top tip of the tree. The leaves and branches usually reach out into a pyramid shape. The younger trees will typically keep their leaves year-round until they get older and more stabilized.


In a bowl-shaped fruit cup (cupula) sit the 1.5 centimeters long and almost as wide, striped acorns. The acorns of the marsh oak remain attached to the tree over the winter and do not spread until the autumn of the following year


Naturally, the frost-hardy Swamp Oak, contrary to its name, is not found in swamps, but in river valleys that are flooded secondarily. But the Swamp Oak also feels at home in the garden. It prefers a sunny to maximum half-shaded place. Its light crown allows enough light to pass through for underplanting.


The Swamp Oak grows in moist to fresh and moderately dry soil. It does not tolerate great dryness. Optimal is a loamy to sandy loamy soil, which stores a lot of moisture. pH-values from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline are best for the Swamp Oak. However, it does not like lime very much.

The tree grows very fast; approximately 2 feet a year. The soil preference of this sturdy oak is acidic, moist, sandy, wet, well-drained soils and clay soils. It can deal with the occasional flooding but loves moderately wet surroundings.

Planting Tips

Planting time for the marsh oak is ideally in autumn before the first frost. Dig a planting hole twice the size of the tree’s rootstock. Water the root ball thoroughly for several hours before planting the tree. Loosen the soil in the planting hole well and mix in some leaf compost. After planting, the young tree must be well silted up. A support pole protects the flat rooting plants from falling over in the first year.


It is important for the Swamp Oak, especially when it is freshly planted, to have sufficient irrigation. The soil should be kept constantly moist to activate root growth. The leaves that fall from the tree in autumn can be reused as fertiliser for the oak. Caution: Do not leave oak leaves lying on the ground, as their high tannin content prevents the growth of neighbouring plants and grass.

Cutting And Pruning

In the open air, the sump oak does not require cutting. When grown as a spherical tree or hedge, a maintenance cut must be made regularly, removing protruding and cross-growing branches. The Sump Oak is generally tolerant of pruning, but thrives best if left alone as much as possible.


Because of its manageable size, the marsh oak is the ideal tree for streets and alleys. It can be planted as a small group or as a solitary tree. As a tall trunk with a spherical crown, swamp oaks adorn front gardens and borders and impress with their overwhelming autumnal orange-red colouring. The dwarf forms can even be grown in tubs on the terrace. Swamp oak is not very popular in the timber industry, although it is well suited for furniture making.

The Pin Oak is one of America’s iconic trees. Its strong trunk and characteristic leaves create a tree that symbolizes America’s historic woodlands.

The acorns on the Pin Oak Tree is eaten by wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, birds, and squirrels. If you have a lake and ducks on your property, they will enjoy the acorns as well. The acorns aren’t tasty due to their extremely bitter flavor.

Pin Oak got its name from short and thin but sturdy branches that grew off of its main limbs. Another common name this tree goes by is Swamp Oak because of how well it deals with wet conditions. The wood from Pin Oak is often used for firewood and construction projects because of its dense and hard qualities.


The dwarf forms of Quercus palustris are particularly relevant for the house garden. The densely branched varieties ‘Green Dwarf’, ‘Isabel’ or ‘Swamp Pygmy’ grow to a maximum height of three metres and develop a two-metre wide spherical crown. In contrast to the natural variety, the cultivars are rather slow growing.


If you want to propagate the oak by acorns, put the fruits in water overnight. The acorn is then planted in growing substrate and placed in a light and warm place. Water regularly. The following year the small swamp oak is ready for planting.

Diseases and pests

Pests specialising in oak trees are the oak processionary moth (attention! Keep your distance!), the oak gall wasp and the oak moth. Infestation can be recognized by the feeding holes on the leaves and the white webs. The pests should be controlled promptly with nettle broth or chemical pesticides, as the injured leaves increase the danger of mildew and fire sponge.

  • Insect: Gypsy moth should be controlled when the trees are young, but older trees can tolerate infrequent defoliation.
  • Diseases: oak wilt -Little can be done about oak wilt.
  • Prolonged flooding may kill entire stands.


Growth height
from 1000.00cm to 2500.00cm
Growth width
from 1000.00cm to 1500.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • conical
  • spherical
  • upright
Flower shape
  • umbel-like
  • Kittens
Flower characteristics
  • monoecious
Sheet shape
  • 5-7-lobed
  • pointed
  • obovate
Sheet properties
  • Autumn colouring
  • sunny to semi-shady
Type of soil
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to moist
  • slightly alkaline to slightly acidic
Lime tolerance
  • sensitive to lime
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf decoration
  • picturesque growth
  • Unique position
  • House tree
  • Landscape woody plants
  • Greening of roads
Garden style
  • Natural garden
  • Parking facilities

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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