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Worldwide, the oaks (Quercus spp.) consist of 275 to 500 species that can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy: the live or evergreen oak group, the red oak group (Erythrobalanus), and the white oak group (Leucobalanus). Species within each group look alike microscopically. The word quercus is the classical Latin name of oaks, said to be derived from Celtic fine and tree.

The commercial North American species are as follows:

Red Oak Group (Erythrobalanus)

  • Quercus coccinea-bastard oak, black oak, buck oak, red oak, scarlet oak, Spanish oak, spotted oak
  • Quercus falcata-American red oak, bottomland red oak, cherrybark oak, Elliott oak, red oak, Spanish oak, southern red oak, swamp red oak, swamp spanish oak, turkeyfoot oak, water oak
  • Quercus kelloggii-black oak, California black oak, Kellogg oak, mountain black oak
  • Quercus laurifolia-Darlington oak, diamond-leaf oak, laurel oak, laurel-leaf oak, swamp laurel oak, water oak, obtusa oak
  • Quercus nigra-American red oak, blackjack, pin oak, possum oak, punk oak, red oak, spotted oak, water oak
  • Quercus nuttallii-nuttall oak, pin oak, red oak, red river oak, striped oak
  • Quercus palustris-pin oak, red oak, Spanish oak, Spanish swamp oak, Spanish water oak, swamp oak, swamp Spanish oak, water oak
  • Quercus phellos-black oak, laurel oak, peach oak, pin oak, red oak, swamp willow oak, water oak, willow oak, willow swamp oak
  • Quercus rubra-American red oak, black oak, buck oak, Canadian red oak, common red oak, gray oak, eastern red oak, leopard oak, Maine red oak, mountain red oak, northern red oak, red oak, Spanish oak, spotted oak, southern red oak, swamp red oak, water oak, West Virginia soft red oak
  • Quercus shumardii-American red oak, Schneck oak, Schneck red oak, shumard oak, Shumard red oak, southern red oak, spotted bark, spotted oak, swamp red oak, Texas oak, Texas red oak
  • Quercus velutina-American red oak, blackjack, black oak, dyer oak, jack oak, quercitron, quercitron oak, redbush, red oak, smoothbark oak, spotted oak, tanbark oak, yellowbark, yellow oak, yellowbark oak

White Oak Group (Leucobalanus)

  • Quercus alba-American white oak, Arizona oak, Arizona white oak, forked-leaf white oak, Louisiana white oak, mantua oak, ridge white oak, stave oak, true white oak, West Virginia soft white oak, white oak
  • Quercus bicolor-blue oak, cherry oak, curly swamp oak, swamp oak, swamp white oak, white oak
  • Quercus garryana-Brewer oak, Garry oak, Oregon oak, Oregon white oak, Pacific post oak, Pacific white oak, post oak, prairie oak, shin oak, western oak, western white oak, white oak
  • Quercus lyrata-American white oak, overcup oak, swamp post oak, swamp white oak, water white oak
  • Quercus macrocarpa-blue oak, bur oak, burr oak, mossycup oak, mossy-overcup oak, overcup oak, scrub oak, white oak, white mossycup oak, white overcup oak
  • Quercus michauxii-American white oak, basket oak, cow oak, swamp oak, swamp chestnut oak
  • Quercus muehlenbergii-chestnut oak, chinkapin oak, chinquapin oak, dwarf chestnut oak, dwarf chinkapin, pin oak, rock oak, rock chestnut oak, running white oak, scrub oak, shrub oak, white oak, yellow oak, yellow chestnut oak
  • Quercus prinus-American white oak, basket oak, chestnut oak, chestnut rock oak, chestnut swamp oak, cow oak, mountain oak, rock oak, rock chestnut, rock chestnut oak, swamp oak, tanbark oak, white oak, white chestnut oak
  • Quercus stellata-American post oak, barren white oak, bastard oak, bastard white oak, box oak, box white oak, brash oak, Delta post oak, Durand oak, iron oak, pin oak post oak, ridge oak, rough oak, rough white oak, southern oak, turkey oak, white box oak, white oak

Live Oak Group

  • Quercus virginiana-dwarf live oak, encino, live oak, rolfs oak, scrub live oak,
    Virginia live oak, Virginia oak

Widely distributed throughout the United States.

The Tree
Oaks can reach a height of 125 ft (38 m), with large diameters.

The Wood

The sapwood of oak is white to very light brown, while the heartwood is light to dark brown in the white oak group and reddish brown in the red oak group. Oak wood has a course texture; it is heavy, straight-grained, hard, tough, very stiff, and strong. Fast-grown oak, with wide rings, is stronger and heavier than slow-grown oak.

Mechanical Properties (2-inch standard)




X106 lbf/in2













Red Oak Group
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Green 0.60 1.48 10,400 4,090 830 15.0 1,200 1,410
Dry 0.67 1.91 17,400 8,330 1,120 20.5 1,400 1,890
Quercus falcata (southern red oak)
Green 0.71 1.14 6,900 3,030 550 8.0 860 930
Dry 0.52 1.49 10,900 6,090 870 9.4 1,060 1,390
Quercus falcata var. pagodifolia (cherrybark oak)
Green 0.61 1.79 10,800 4,620 760 14.7 1,240 1,320
Dry 0.68 2.28 18,100 8,740 1,250 18.3 1,480 2,000
Quercus laurifolia (laurel oak)
Green 0.56 1.39 7,900 3,170 570 11.2 1,000 1,180
Dry 0.63 1.69 12,600 6,980 1,060 11.8 1,210 1,830
Quercus nigra (water oak)
Green 0.56 1.55 8,900 3,740 620 11.1 1,010 1,180
Dry 0.63 2.02 15,400 6,770 1,020 11.8 1,210 2,020
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Green 0.58 1.32 8,300 3,680 720 14.0 1,070 1,290
Dry 0.63 1.73 14,000 6,820 1,020 14,800 1,510 2,080
Quercus phellos (willow oak)
Green 0.56 1.29 7,400 3,000 610 8.8 980 1,180
Dry 0.69 1.90 14,500 7,040 1,130 14.6 1,460 1,650
Quercus rubra (northern red oak)