Tree of the week: Quercus palustris – Pin oak

If you are looking to introduce autumn colours to your garden, Pin oak is a suitable option.

This tree is native to eastern and central America. It is a medium to large tree that has adapted well to our South African conditions. The tree is deciduous and has an attractive, pyramidal shape with a straight, dominant trunk.  It can reach a mature height between 18 to 22 m and the trunk can attain a diameter of a meter or more. This beautiful tree starts off in a pyramidal shape, but as it matures, develops a more rounded shape.

The Pin oak’s glossy green leaves are roughly lobed with 2 to 4 pairs of sharply serrated lobes. They change to bronze, red and gold during autumn, before dropping to the ground. The dead leaves sometimes remain hanging on the tree for a long time. This tree is monoecious; the non-showy flowers appear at about the time the new leaves develop in the spring. The fruit is an acorn that matures at the end of the second growing season after flowering.

The lower branches of Q. palustris tend to droop, middle branches are horizontal and branches in the upper part of the crown grow upright. This makes it a handsome tree for large gardens, parks and streets. It can handle very cold conditions and is moderately water wise, once established.  The tree grows fairly quickly and has a fairly shallow, non-invasive root system.  This tree has established well in urban areas where air pollution, poor drainage, compacted soil, and/or drought are common.

Pronunciation: KWERK-us pal-US-triss