Quercus coccinea M ünchh.

Scarlet Oak

A relatively fast-growing and short-lived deciduous tree to 20 m or more tall. Bark smooth at first, becoming narrowly ridged. Bud scales hairy at the tips only. Leaves mostly 8-15 cm long with 7-9 deep bristle-tipped lobes mostly with barely visible tufts of hairs below in the axils between the main veins and midrib, shiny above. Acorns solitary or in pairs, mostly 1.5-2.5 cm long, gradually tapering to the tip; cups bowl-shaped, covering one third to half the acorn which takes 2 seasons to mature; scales thin.

E North America

Grows naturally on high ground, slopes and ridges, often on poor, dry, gravelly soils alt. c. 800-1500 m.

Easily confused with the much commoner Q. palustris but the leaves are mostly larger and less deeply lobed, often with 7-9 lobes, the axillary tufts of hairs on lower leaf surface very small: also the acorns (rarely seen) are ringed at the top and set in a deeper cup; the autumnal colouring is deep red unlike the more sombre red of Q. palustris. The buds are said to be rounded in Q. coccinea with dense hair towards the tip and pointed in Q. palustris with the hair soon lost, but this character does not appear to be consistent. The intergrading of these and other characters in some specimens suggests hybridisation between these two species.

NSW: Blackheath (street trees in main street). VIC: Dandenongs (George Tindale Memorial Garden, 3 fine specimens); Kallista (street tree); Emerald (Emerald Lake Park, Nobelius Heritage Park next to Knightia excelsa); Orbost (avenue of young trees in main street); Surrey Hills (street tree outside 308 Mont Albert Road); Melbourne (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne Gardens), Oak Lawn, a herbarium specimen was collected from this tree in 1905).


Rarely cultivated similar species include: Q. kelloggii Newb., relatively recently been used by the Melbourne City Council, which it has at least the young leaves hairy below, always without axillary tufts of hair and the buds covered with short hairs; and Q. shumardii Buckley which has acorns without concentric grooves.

Source: Spencer, R. (1997). Fagaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Fagales
family       Fagaceae
genus        Quercus L.