Pin oak (Quercus palustris) is an Indiana native widely planted as an ornamental. Its one weakness is a tendency to suffer from chlorosis or a yellowing of the leaves. But this only happens in soils that are alkaline (or have a high pH). Luckily, in Beverly Shores, our soils tend toward acidity. Pin oak also is one of the few oaks that tolerates poorly drained soils. Its scientific name, “palustris,” which means “of the swamp” or “of the marsh” gives you a good idea of the type of habitat it can often be found in. You may even see it growing close to the Great Marsh.
If you have a wet property, pin oak might be well suited for you. It is easily grown in average, medium to wet, acidic soils in full sun. At 24 inches or more a year, pin oak is one of the fastest growing oaks trees and reaches a total height of 60 to 80 feet. Pin oak has a unique branch arrangement with the upper branches pointing upward, the middle branches mostly horizontal, and the lower branches pointing downward. This makes the tree easily recognizable.
Pin oak acorns are rounded and up to a half inch long. Like most acorns, they are a very important food source for wildlife. Pin oak leaves are glossy, dark green, and deeply lobed with bristles on the lobe tips. Leaves turn deep red to bronze in fall and often persist on the tree through much of the winter. Like most oaks, flowers are dangling catkins and are not ornamental.
Unlike many of our native plants, pin oak is widely sold at nurseries, home repair stores and other garden centers.
If you have questions about pin oak or other native or non-native plants, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Bonace (email@example.com), Candice Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Bill Schaudt (email@example.com) for assistance. Also please explore our website, www.bserg.org, for further information on invasive plants and native replacements.