The scarlet oak is named for its bright red autumn foliage. An upland tree that occasionally produces a very large crop of acorns. This species is often mistaken for northern red oak because of the similar bark, and sometimes mistaken for pin oak because of the deeply lobed leaves. Dead branches are often retained on the trunk of the tree, giving it somewhat of a messy appearance. These dead branches are a common trait of many red oaks, but is particularly prominent in scarlet oaks.
Upland areas; typically dry ridges, rocky, and/or sandy soils.
Northern Red Oak - bark may be almost identical, but leaves and acorns can be easily distinguished. Northern red oak leaves have shallower sinuses than those of scarlet oak. Scarlet oak acorns have scaly caps that cover much more of the nut than those of northern red oak. Northern red oak is often found lower on ridges or hillsides than scarlet oak.
Pin Oak - leaves bare some reseblance, but those of scarlet oak have more rounded sinuses, while pin oak leaves generally have straighter or more tapered lobes ending in fewer bristle tips. Bark of pin oak is smoother and lacks the "ski tracks" of scarlet oak. Pin oak has more dense branches than scarlet oak.