Quercus coccinea - the Scarlet Oak


Quercus coccinea - the Scarlet Oak

01Sep 2021

Quercus coccinea: The queen of autumn

Our deciduous tree of the month is the scarlet oak. In autumn it turns its leaves red: scarlet red. While our September expert tip has already been dedicated to the maple, the tree that defines for so many the Indian summer, we would like to add that the scarlet oak with its red leaves also contributes to this magical season.

And what's more, they stay on the tree for quite a while– as if they wanted to give the admirer a particularly lengthy period of pleasure.

But Quercus coccinea's bark is also delightful: when young, it is light grey to silver-grey– and smooth. Over the years it becomes cracked and somewhat scaly, with a tendency to develop warts. The colouring turns dark grey and harmonises excellently with the green of the leaves– and even more so with the scarlet leaves in autumn.





Gone with the wind. And: more light, please!

The overall appearance indicates its age. The crown is conical at first, only later becoming looser and rounder. However, if you want to watch the ageing process, you need patience and staying power yourself: Quercus coccinea grows rather slowly, at just 15 centimetres a year.

In May and June, greenish to yellow flower catkins appear, preceded by some wind-borne pollination. To allow the breeze to rustle through the leaves, oaks prefer a bright, sunny, light-flooded site. Parks and large gardens are well suited, preferably as the main protagonist with appropriate spacing– not a bad idea with a growth height of up to 25 metres.



Not all oaks are the same

Our plant of the month is predominantly found in eastern North America, but meanwhile also in Central Europe. It belongs to the red oak family, but differs from our native oaks.

Its acorns are smaller and rounder. The wood has coarser pores, but is very hard and stable– a result of the slow growth. A second life as an oak barrel is not possible due to these characteristics, but it is possible as flooring or a piece of furniture. The wood can be worked, stained, varnished and oiled very well, and screws and nails stay clean. And as a small reminder of the autumn colour of the leaves, the grain is at least a reddish-brown.