Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Scarlet Oak

Scarlet Oak

Quercus coccinea

Full sun; medium to dry moisture level; prefers sandy soil but also occurs in shallow infertile soils over sandstone or limestone, coarse sandy loams to heavy clay soils; requires acidic pH of at least slightly acid or lower.

50-75 feet height by 40-50 feet spread; blooms in spring with male flowers as yellow-green catkins, 3-4 inches long, and with inconspicuous female flowers in spikes; light tan-brown acorn, ½ -1 inch long, in fall. Acorns require two growing seasons to mature.

Growth Rate: Medium to fast; 1 ½ to 2 feet per year.

Maintenance: All oaks are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests including scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils. Notwithstanding these problems, oaks are generally considered to be low maintenance trees.

Propagation: Seed germination code A. Best sown immediately because acorns lose viability quickly in storage. Due to a deep taproot, best to simply plant an acorn directly in ground or do container-grown seedlings in deep containers for no more than 1-2 years.

Native Region: Statewide

Small canopy tree that is a popular and handsome shade tree as well as street tree. Foliage is glossy green in summer and turns scarlet red in fall. Occurs naturally in a variety of habitats including poor soils in mixed forests and on upland ridges. This is a durable and stately tree that works in drier locations and can be planted on a wide variety of soils due to its hardiness. Long-lived at 200-300 years. Begins to bear fruit at age 20. Needs a large area where it can grow to its full size. Cultivars available.

Very high wildlife value. Acorns provide food for squirrels, chipmunks, deer, wild turkey, bluejays and red-headed woodpeckers.


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