scarlet/red oak in stl, mo

bsmith717(6)March 14, 2013

I thought I had made my mind up on planting a variety of Maple hybrid (autumn blaze/glory/etc) here in this thread.

But I just couldn't get the thoughts of having a tree for 10-15 years just to have it break/the bark crack/it just die on me. Plus at ONLY 40'-50' tall I was left wanting for something that would get bigger.

It seems to me these have a lot going for them. They grow quick, are hardy, have great fall color, are very sturdy and can also provide a good home for animals too. What am I missing???

I cant really remember how I got turned onto these specific Oaks but I just really like the thought of planting something that could possibly live 500 years, Autumn Blaze cant touch that!

SO what are the real differences between a Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) and a Red Oak (Quercus Rubra) and if these are less favored for whatever reason you feel please elaborate.

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"SO what are the real differences between a Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) and a Red Oak (Quercus Rubra)"

Both are good yard trees in my opinion. Scarlet has a brighter fall red color than Q. rubra, or Northern Red oak. Northern Red has a better quality wood (regarding strength, color). This is the species typcally sold as "Red oak" in the lumber store.

You note the possibility of the tree living 500 years; this actually applies to the white oak varieties (Q. abla being one example) and not typically the reds. In forest settings, I have found that the red/black oak varieties begin to decline after about 120-125 years. I have read reports where some groups claim that they have found 600 - 700 year old red oaks but I am very skeptical.

So back to your original question, I think both species would make a great yard tree. Q. rubra will probably be the larger tree but Q. coccinea will have the prettier fall color.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 5:38AM
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That supports what I have found for the most part. Now (well not now, more like this coming fall) I need to decide whether im going to find out where some nice saplings can be had that show good color or think about getting a some acorns.

I don't know jack about the acorn route but is it fair to say that if they are gathered from a tree with good coloration/general characteristics the resulting trees would have those traits too?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the fall color on any oak group is incredibly variable ... between nuts.. lol ... and also highly dependent on weather ...

if you can only have one or two ... i would suggest.. that you spend the summer finding oak tree farms within 100 miles.. and go find the color you want.. WHEN THEY ARE IN FULL FALL COLOR ...

that is the only way to insure the genetics ... oaks are not as consistent in color.. as say.. some of the named varieties of maples ..... [which means.. there are no 'named cultivars' of oak.. selected and named for their color]

i have a few of both scarlet and red oaks.. and the coloration varies widely.. across just my 5 acres ... and the scarlet are heads above the other ... color-wise ...

so.. set some space aside .... for getting these in fall .. perhaps 'tagged' for spring planting ...

and while you are at it.. mess around with some acorns.. just for the heck of it ...


EDIT: and i have no idea about the whole st louis thing ... my info is in regard to oak only ... you have to figure out whether either is not proper down your way ... [or one of our friends here will help with that] ...

This post was edited by ken_adrian on Thu, Mar 14, 13 at 7:46

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:33AM
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The color varies nut to nut... Good to

Yeah my wife's gonna love it! I have only been obsessing about these tree choices for half a year and now Before its all done ill have multiple saplings growing out and an acorn nursury!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:45AM
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I think that if you plan only a small number of trees to plant, I would go ahead and spend the extra money on a named cultivar. With a named cultivar the traits that you are looking for in the tree are more dependable in contrast to wild collected or germinating seed. Oaks tend to hybridize a bit and often the genetics containing the traits that you may want are not always transferred to the progeny.

It may be a good idea to visit the MO Botanical Garden that is in your backyard in St. Louis. They should have some Scarlet oaks in the garden plus they might be able to recommend a good cultivar for your area.

Here is a link to the garden as well as Scarlet oak.


Here is a link that might be useful: MO Botanical Garden-Scarlet oak

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 8:46AM
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Yes I found the MO botanical gardens site. That's where I got what I felt was the most pertinent info on the trees.

What cultivars are available? When I was googling the common and Latin names of the trees I really didnt find much in the way of offerings for sale.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 9:15AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Be aware that Scarlet Oaks originate from drier sites on ridge tops,as such they need good drainage. Also, they have recently become much more available than they use to be (meaning larger sized trees). Same for many other trees traditionally thought of as difficult to transplant. So with that said, I agree with looking around in the fall to find what best fit you. That is what I did for our Scarlet Oak. Just so happened that the other half decided she wanted an Oak. I figured it would have to be Northern Red Oak, due to purported transplant issues to be with Scarlet Oaks. Never expected to find any of any size. But it turned out a local nursery had gotten 2" caliper B&B trees, and were in fall color while I was looking. And would that color ever burn your retinas...... So knowing it was going to be just one tree, I coughed up the $$$. to be sure I got what we wanted, and I have not regretted it.

As for cultivars, there aren't that many cultivars of Oaks. None that I know of for Scarlet or NRO. I have seen some NRO with fantastic color, but just as with the others, it's variable with the tree. I will say in the case of NRO, I bought one for relatives, and I picked the one with the reddest leaf petiole, hoping that would indicate better fall color. As it turned out the tree I choose generated very nice color. I can't claim that to be a reliable way to determine fall color, but it worked out in that instance.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 4:48PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

What is your yard like? I found a spot for a scarlet oak halfway uo my hill. You would think it would be dry enough.

Is leaf retention an issue? My four foot tall scarlet oak transplant still has 90% of its now brown leaves lol. Not sure how typical that is.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:59PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

did you ask?? .. lol ...

as i said.. i am not aware of any named varieties .... not that i tried very hard to find any ...

this is not a scientific based analysis .. if any of the scientists want to argue over this.. feel free ...

oaks are kinda the sluts of the forest .... they inter-pollinate .. with wild abandon ...

to get acorns of say.. the red group.. the tree peeps 'find' an area that is predominantly a red oak forest ... and cull acorns from that area ... but in relying on air currents.. and mother nature.. there is no real way to insure the genetic makeup of any batch of seed ...

you may end up with leaves that look like a red oak.. bark that looks like red oak.. wood that looks like red oak.. and habit .. well.. etc ...

but somewhere hidden in all the genetics.. i am saying.. fall color ... what color they change when the leaf is dying/shutting down ..... is so far down the genetic cesspool.. that that variable.. is.. well.. variable ...

and if you do find ONE red oak.. and pick up acorns from under it.. there is no real way.. to tell what you will end up with ..... in regard to fall color ...

so .. IMHO.. the only way to be sure.. is to select them.. when they show their true colors ...

and the real problem.. when growing from acorns.. is that they dont show their true colors [man this sounds like a bunch of pop music cliches.. lol] ... for maybe 10 years.. until they hit some level of maturity .... in fact.. i have one 5 year old babe.. maybe 18 inches tall.. that turns pink .... and i am enjoying the heck out of it.. but dont really expect that color to hold ....

on my mineral sand 5 acres.. with 40 oak trees.. i have hundreds of free range seedlings .... so if you get to trying to grow seedlings.. and trust me.. its very entertaining ... dont go all martha stewart on how to do it [dont over-complicate it all] ..... throw them on some sand.. protect them from squirrels.. and walk away.. in essence.. be the squirrel.. when planting ...

i wish you luck


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:22AM
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