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Pin Oak

Quercus palustris


The pin oak (not to be confused with the northern pin oak) is a bottomland tree, often found near swampy areas. It doesn't tolerate standing water, but can withstand seasonal flooding. 

The branches have a characteristic appearance - angled upward near the top of the tree, and angled downward near the base of the tree. 

The name "pin oak" refers to the pin-like shoots that can be found on the trunk and the limbs. Often retains many small dead limbs. 

Pin oak is also a very popular species in landscaping, and may be found in subdivisions, office parks, shopping centers, and city parks.


Central eastern US - common in the Midwest, but extending into the northern part of the Southeast and into the mid-atlantic.

Distribution Map


River bottoms, near swamps, or occasionally uplands, especially where planted. Prefers acidic soil.


Glossy green, 5 to 9 narrow lobes. Sinuses very deep, almost reaching the midvein. Lobes often at a 90 degree angle from the midvein. Foliage has a more "wispy" appearance due to this leaf shape. Underside of leaf is smooth with tufts of brown hair between the midvein and side veins, similar to Shumard oak.

Pin Oak


Gray to light gray, ranging from smooth to coarsely fissured. Young bark is very smooth.

Pin Oak


Small to medium (1/2 to 3/4"), round, with a flat, frisbee-shaped cap covering about 1/4 of the nut. Acorns usually have dark brown stripes when ripe.

Pin Oak


Look-alike oaks:

Nuttall Oak - overall tree appearance is very similar between the two; however, leaves of Nuttall oak have shallower and often more lobes than those of pin oak. Nuttall oak acorns are usually larger with a deeper cap covering about 1/3 of the nut.

Shumard Oak - both species have tufts of brown hairs between the veins on the underside of the leaf. However, Shumard oak leaves have more rounded sinuses than those of pin oak. Shumard oak also grows differently - it lacks the dense branching and downward-angled lower branches of pin oak. Bark may be similar, but that of pin oak is usually smoother.

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