Pin Oak Tree

The Pin Oak tree (Quercus palustris) is also known as the Marsh Oak, althoughthe name of Marsh Oak is a bit misleading.  The tree is rarely found in marshes and constantly humid conditions.  Nevertheless, flooded river valleys often become home to some of these trees.

Coming from Eastern north America, the tree is a relative newcomer to European lands.  It was named Marsh Oak by a German botanist from Hameln called Otto II of Münchhausen, who wrote the first valid description of this tree in 1752.  The scientific name Palustris comes from the Latin word meaning "marsh", and its is in the family of Fagaceae (Beech trees).

The original natural home of the Pin oak is  the east of the United States of America and of Canada, from Tennessee and Virginia to the areas  of the Great Lakes in Canada.

Pin Oak Tree

Since its introduction to Europe in the eighteenth century it has been planted there in parks on a purely decorative basis because its foliage has strikingly beautifully colourfings in autumn.. It is the first oak of North America to flower in spring . It needs an average number of sunny hours, and resists the freezing of an average frost. The tree appreciates wetlands. It particulary likes slightly acidic soil and doesn't tolerate limestone areas. It grows at altitudes below  350 meters above sea level.

The Pin Oak tree grows moderately fast, which, combined with its overall shape and properties, makes it popular choice as a shade tree.  It reaches a height of 20 to 25 metres, and sometimes (but rarely) as high as 30 metres.  It has a conical crown and a trunk of about one metre in diameter. Its grey-green bark remains smooth even on the adult trees. The tree lives from 90 to 120 years.

Pin Oak Leaves

The horizontally positioned branches have short, sharp twigs. In later age the bottom branches bend.  The leaves have five or seven lobes deeply cut out with a central vein. Their size varies from 5 to 11 centimetres. If you turn the Pin Oak leaf over you'll see that on the back there are light browny-orangey hairs where the main lobe vens join the central vein.

Flowers appear on the Pin Oak in July.  Both male and female flowers grow on the the same tree but in separate places.  Male flowers are grouped in catkins which develop from buds from the previous year, and are 5 to 7 centimetres long.  From 15 or 20 years of age, the Pin Oak will produce acorns which mature during the cecond year after pollenation.  Being around 13mm in size, the acorns are tightly held in cups which are almost stalklessly attached to the branches.

Beautiful picture of a snow covered Pin Oak Tree in Winter by MCS_flickr

The Pin Oak's wood is the medium brownish with almost white sapwood which is used used in the production of furniture. It is very much used on a purely decorative basis thanks to its colors

This tree is the only food known of the caterpillar Bucculatrix domicola.

Quercus palustris Green Dwarf is a smaller version of  this tree which reaches a height of 2 metres after ten years of its life.

References and external links: Pin oak tree at Wikepedia, Technorati

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