American oak (Quercus rubra)

American oak in autumn.

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Deciduous trees are a real marvel, and those who dress in their best clothes during the fall ... those are even more beautiful if possible. It is very difficult to decide on one or the other when you are immersed in the design of your garden, but I am going to make it easy for you with the american oak.

This tree is magnificent. It gives an excellent shade, it is beautiful throughout the year (yes, even without leaves), and at the end of the summer it wears a very striking red color. So what are you waiting for to get one?

Characteristics of the American Oak

Detail of the trunk of an American Oak.

Detail of the trunk.

The American oak, whose scientific name is quercus rubraIt is a deciduous tree that is also known by other names, such as American Red Oak, American Red Boreal Oak or Northern Red Oak. This is a species native to North America, specifically the northeast of the United States and southeastern Canada. Belonging to the botanical family Fagaceae, it is an imposing plant.

It can grow to a height of 35 meters, with a trunk up to 2m in diameter. Its crown is dense, solid and highly branched. The leaves are large, measuring 12 to 22cm in length, and have 4 to 5 more or less spiny lobes. As we mentioned at the beginning, during the fall they turn red.

It is a dioecious plant, that is, there are male flowers and female flowers, and they sprout in spring from the young shoots. They are ovoid in shape and red in color. Once the female ones have been pollinated, the fruit begins to ripen, which is a red-brown acorn of about 2cm. These take two years to mature, and you should know that they are not edible (they have a very bitter taste).

How do you take care of yourself?

Leaves and inflorescences of the American oak.

Are you liking this tree? Right? If you would like to get one, here is your care guide:


Being a tree that grows a lot, not a lot, It is highly recommended to plant it in the garden as soon as it has a minimum height of 30cm. Where? Well, it will depend on where you prefer to put it, but it is important that you make sure that it will be far from any construction (leave a minimum distance of 6 meters), and that it will be in direct sunlight for a few hours a day.


While not very demanding, will grow best in those that have a slightly acidic pH, that is to say, it is between 5 and 6. In addition, it is advisable that it has very good drainage (here you have more information on this subject), and that it be kept cool and humid.


Watering has to be frequent, especially during the summer. Usually, it will be watered every 2-3 days in summer, and every 4-5 days the rest of the year. The water to be used must be rain or lime free. If you do not have it, you can dilute the liquid of half a lemon in 1 liter of water, or fill a bucket and use the water from the upper half the next day.


During the warm months of spring and summer, you must pay it regularly. For this you can use mineral or organic fertilizers. Both are very effective, but if you have pets we recommend organic ones as the minerals could be toxic to them.


No need to prune. He will only develop the beautiful dense crown that the adult specimens shown in the images on the Internet have 😉. In the event that there is a branch that bothers, it can be trimmed in autumn or late winter, when the frosts have passed.


It is a very rustic tree, being able to withstand temperatures down to -25ºC. But this has its downside: normally, plants that support such low temperatures do not tolerate high values ​​above 30ºC. American oak is one of them. In order to grow it and make it grow healthy, the climate must be temperate, with mild summers and cold winters, otherwise it will not survive.

How does it multiply?

Young specimen of American oak.

Young quercus rubra.

The American Oak can be multiplied by seeds, which need to be cold for three months to germinate. Therefore, if you want to obtain new copies you can do the following:

Stratify them naturally

If you live in an area where temperatures stay low in winter and frost occurs, you can sow the seeds of the tree in pots with vermiculite or black peat mixed with perlite in equal parts and let nature take its course. In spring you will see how they begin to sprout.

Stratify them in the fridge

On the contrary, if you live in an area where winters are mild, to ensure that they will germinate it will be necessary to artificially stratify them in the refrigerator at 6ºC for three months. For it, You just have to fill a transparent plastic tupperware with vermiculite, moisten it, sow the seeds and then cover them with a little vermiculite.

To avoid fungi you can sprinkle a little copper or sulfur. This way the seeds will stay healthy and will germinate in spring.


It is usually used above all as ornamental plant. As it gives very good shade and turns red in the fall, it is a very interesting tree to have in large gardens. However, it also has another use: the wood of this tree is used to build furniture, floors (parquet), as well as wine drums.

What is its price?

Leaves and acorns of the American oak.

The price will vary according to the age of the tree and according to the country where it is sold, as an American oak will always cost more in a Malaga nursery than in another in León, for example. Why? Because the growing conditions are not the same in one place as in another. In León it is easy to have it very healthy, because the climate is good; On the other hand, in Malaga you have to be aware of him due to the high temperatures.

Taking this into account, the price for a 70-centimeter tree can range from 12 and 20 euros.

And with this we are done. Have you heard of this wonderful plant? What do you think?

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  1.   Bill said

    Hello Monica,

    I have already written to you on the Acer palmatum blog before and I would like to thank you for the great help you give me and congratulate you on your blog, which is fantastic.

    Last year I already collected some seeds of which now I have some small trees, and with the return of autumn I have dared to try other types of tree, such as this oak. Well, the other day I went to the botanical garden in Madrid and to my surprise I just found 12 acorns hidden in the ground, which unfortunately when put in water all float, I wondered if it would be more convenient to take them at another time of year instead of now .

    I also take this opportunity to ask you about the ginkgo biloba seeds, last year there were many and this year very little, will it still be soon due to the heat? Do we have to wait for the tree to turn yellow?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Guillermo, again 🙂
      Thank you for your words. We are very happy that you like the blog.

      Regarding the seeds. The truth is that the climate this year has not "behaved" very well this year with Spain. We have had a very hot summer, it hasn't rained what it should have ... Anyway. Faced with this situation, the plants "have gone crazy" and do not know what to do. This lack of control has probably been responsible for the fact that the oak and ginkgo you have seen have so few seeds.

      I recommend that you buy them online. Obviously, the fresher the better, but since the weather is likely to continue like this for a long time, the quickest way to get them is to buy them. If you prefer a grown plant, I recommend that you do click here. It is a trusted online store that sells practically everything: oak, maples, ginkgos (they have it as ginkco biloba), beech. The only thing, I have not seen that it has American oaks (yes it does have the horse). I do not take commission. 🙂
      A greeting.

  2.   Robert Cole said

    Hi there! Magnificent article, I have a doubt, the relationship years / size, or how many cm it grows each year and also if planting it from seeds or better a large one, thank you!

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Roberto.
      Ugh, I can't tell you because I have no experience with this tree, since where I live there is a climate that is too warm for it. But considering other Quercus, it probably grows at a rate of about 20-25cm / year.

      Regarding your last question, it will depend on what you want and how fast you are. Let me explain: seeing a tree germinate is a very beautiful and educational experience, but if you are more interested in having a plant that you can enjoy now, then the ideal thing would be to get a grown specimen.

      A greeting.

  3.   Graciela said

    Hello, I have a question, I hope you can answer me. I want to know if this tree has medicinal properties Like the oaks in Mexico? Thanks.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Graciela.
      No, American oak has no medicinal properties.
      A greeting.