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 usually isn't found in standing water, but can withstand seasonal flooding. 

The branches have a characteristic appearance - angled upward on the top half 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, typically with 5 narrow lobes, occasionally 7. Sinuses very deep, almost reaching the midvein. Lobes often 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") and very round, with a flat, frisbee-shaped cap covering up to 1/4 of the nut.

Pin Oak


Look-alike oaks:

Nuttall Oak - overall tree appearance is very similar between the two, but leaves of Nuttall oak have more & shallower lobes than those of pin oak. Nuttall oak acorns are generally larger than those of pin oak.

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 and usually more lobes than pin oak, giving the leaf a more "full" appearance. Shumard oak also grows differently - it lacks the tall, narrow crown and drooping lower branches of pin oak.

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