Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) is best known for its brilliant autumn color. It is a large rapid-growing tree of the Eastern United States found on a variety of soils in mixed forests, especially light sandy and gravelly upland ridges and slopes. Best development is in the Ohio River Basin. In commerce, the lumber is mixed with that of other red oaks. Scarlet oak is a popular shade tree and has been widely planted in the United States and Europe.
R. Merrilees, Illustrator
In addition to its value as a timber and wildlife species, scarlet oak is widely planted as an ornamental. Its brilliant red autumn color, open crown texture, and rapid growth make it a desirable tree for yard, street, and park.
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of scarlet oak. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Fagales > Fagaceae > Quercus coccinea. Scarlet oak is also commonly called black oak, red oak, or Spanish oak.
3. The Range of Scarlet Oak
Scarlet oak is found from southwestern Maine west to New York, Ohio, southern Michigan, and Indiana; south to southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri, and central Mississippi; east to southern Alabama and southwestern Georgia; and north along the western edge of the Coastal Plain to Virginia.
Leaf: Alternate, simple, 3 to 7 inches long, oval in shape with very deep sinuses and bristle-tipped lobes, shiny green above, paler and generally hairless below but may have tufts in vein axils.
Twig: Moderately stout, red-brown with multiple terminal buds; buds reddish brown, plump, pointed, slightly angled, and covered with a light colored pubescence on the top half.
The fire resistance of scarlet oak is rated as low. It has thin bark, and even low severity surface fires can result in severe basal damage and high mortality. Top-killed scarlet oaks sprout vigorously from the root crown after fire.