Acorns and life support poles are vital to deer survival, especially during winter. And that means the pole is vital to deer hunters and landowners alike.
Acorns are also useful when hunters and landowners are trying to determine what type of oak is on a property or public hunting ground. But acorns are not in the ground 24/7. During the summer and spring months, you must rely on leaf and bark patterns to identify oak species. And in the winter months, after an oak tree's leaves have fallen, you can't even rely on a leaf's color and characteristics to help you identify the tree.
That leaves you with fun facts about Bark. How well do you know your bark?
Here's a quick guide to eight of the best-known oaks in the US. For each variety of oak, we'll list the most common characteristics of the tree's makeup, leaves, and bark pattern.
White Oak Group
Trees in the red oak group require two growing seasons to produce a mature acorn, while trees in the white oak group require only one growing season to produce a mature acorn.White oak acorns are considered more flavorfulfor deer and other wildlife due to its lower concentration of tannic acid.
Those who spend time in the woods or are not new to deer hunting will recognize white oak. It is the most widespread of all oak species. It is particularly dominant in the eastern half of North America, from Canada to Florida.
- Short and stocky trunk.
- Strong, thick horizontal limbs.
- Color: clear, grey-gray.
- The bark is usually small and narrow, arranged in rectangular blocks or flakes.
- Color: Varies from dark green to bluish-green in summer, turning to shades of brown, dark red, and red-orange in autumn.
- Shape and Size: Leaves are 4 to 8 inches long with 3 to 4 rounded finger-like lobes on each side and one at the tip of the leaf.
Bur oak lives for more than 200 to 300 years. Some refer to this species of oak as the Mossycup oak. Like many oaks, it is difficult to transplant.
- It grows in a rounded shape and provides a dense shade.
- It is considered a slow growing tree, increasing in height less than 12 inches per year.
- The bark is dark gray or gray-brown.
- Rough and deeply veined in older trees.
- The leaves are 6 to 12 inches long with 5 to 9 lobes.
- The leaves are separated in the middle by a pair of particularly deep sinuses.
The holm oak is considered a medium to large size tree. This tree is so common in East Texas that it influenced the name of the Post Oak Savannah region of the state.
- Post oak has a compact, rounded crown and a short trunk.
- It usually reaches a height of 50 feet.
- The bark is thick, gray-brown in color, with narrow, irregular cracks.
- Older trees tend to have scaly ridges on the trunks.
- Usually 4 to 6 inches long and about the same width, oakleaf is typically five-lobed, with no bristle tips. Often the lobes form a cross at the ends.
- The leaves are dark green and somewhat leathery.
This is an oak that does not survive in colder climates. It is restricted to hardiness zones 7 through 10. Live oak grows rapidly when young and can live for centuries.
- Live oak has a huge wingspan of 60 to 100 feet at maturity.
- It is common for live oak to grow up to 50 feet tall.
- It has a short and strong trunk.
- With open growth, the limbs often touch the ground.
- The bark is dark brown. Like most oaks, it has a rough texture.
- The bark develops very thick interlocking ridges and deep grooves as the tree ages.
Photo:W. D. Brush, hosted in the USDA-NRCS PLANTS database
- The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and 1/2 to 2 inches wide.
- The leaves are evergreen, thick and leathery, smooth and shiny.
- The leaf shape is oval, oblong or elliptical.
- Dark green in color, the underside of the leaf is pale white and silvery.
US Hardiness Zones
US Hardiness Zones Photograph:arbor day foundation
red oak group
Trees in the red oak group require two growing seasons to produce a mature acorn, while trees in the white oak group require only one growing season to produce a mature acorn. Red oak acorns are considered bitter and less palatable to deer and other wildlife due to their high concentration of tannic acid. However, red oak acorns have higher nutritional value and survive the harsh winter months.
northern red oak
Landscapers love this tree. It is considered a great street tree. This oak prefers moisture but has some tolerance to drought. This oak can grow up to two feet a year for 10 years.
- It grows in a round shape.
- Usually with a dense cup.
- Considered one of the fastest growing oaks.
- As with other oak species, the bark of young trees is smooth and gray-green in color.
- As the tree ages, the bark splits open, forming firm, elongated, flat-topped ridges.
- Ridges in the bark are often more clearly marked than grooves.
- The leaves are 5 to 9 inches long, 4 to 6 inches wide, with 7 to 9 lobes.
- The lobes are sparsely toothed and pointed with bristles.
- At maturity, the leaves are thin, dark, and green. They have a shiny appearance.
Unsurprisingly, water oaks are often found along ponds, stream banks, marshy areas, and on heavy, compacted soil that does not drain well. That's not to say they can't handle drier soils. Can.
- Often the leaves do not drop until late winter.
- The leaves are 2 to 8 inches long, 3 to 4 inches wide, and are usually spatulate, meaning they are broad and rounded at the top and narrow and wedge-shaped at the base.
- They can have 3 different lobes or lobes at the top (typical of young shoots and trees).
- The upper surfaces of the leaves are a deeper green to bluish-green, while the undersides tend to be a paler bluish-green.
Pine Oaks are known for their tolerance to moisture. Regionally, some call swamp oak pine oak. This oak grows quickly and can increase in height by 24 inches per year.
- A young oak pine has a pyramidal shape, but with age it takes on a more oval shape.
- The tree develops a single central trunk from the base to the crown.
- The branches in the lower third of the tree are inclined downward.
- The bark is light brown, smooth, and shiny, turning grayish-brown as the tree ages.
- The grooves are shallow with narrow, flattened scales that appear with age.
- The leaves are 3-6 inches long with five lobes (although sometimes 7-9) separated by very deep sinuses.
- In summer, the leaves are dark green and glossy. In autumn, the leaves turn scarlet and bronze.
Black oak can grow up to 100 meters tall. Thanks to the long and prominent taproots, they are suitable for poor growing conditions. It is a hardy tree, but it tends to suffer from rot.
- The shape is irregular and the tree is often thought to appear unruly.
- Black oak typically reaches a height of 50 to 60 feet.
- Black oak gets its name from an almost black bark.
- The inner bark is yellow or dark orange.
- The bark is vertically grooved with horizontal cracks. It is very rough and thick.
- The leaf size is 5 to 9 inches long and the leaves have 5 to 7 irregular lobes tipped with bristles.
- In early spring, black oak has red leaves emerging from the winter shoots.
- In summer the leaves turn bright green.
What's Next: Learn Which Acorns Deer Like Best
LearnWhich acorn does the deer like best?and why on our blog about acorns, tasting notes, and the most common Native American oak trees.
featured photo:Csaba Nagy, Pixabay