Oak trees are members of the beech family, a group of trees that is not bothered by serious diseases or insects. Oak trees are found mostly in the north-temperate zones, with about 600 different varieties. The acorns are used to make animal feed, tannin and oil, and are a favorite meal for all kinds of wildlife from squirrels to deer. Oak trees are prized by gardeners for their shade and long life with some trees known to live to hundreds of years.
Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) is also known as yellow chestnut oak, chinquapin oak, and yellow oak. The tree grows from 60 to 80 feet tall with a straight trunk and an ash-gray colored bark. The yellow-green leaves measure 4 to 7 inches long and up to 3-1/2 inches wide and turn yellow-brown or red in autumn. Acorns grow up to 1 inch long, are edible, and mature in a single season. Plant chinkapin oak in full sun and a well-drained soil. The tree is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. It is one of the rarer specimens of the oak family.
Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) is also known as basket oak and is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8. The tree grows from 60 to 70 feet tall with a round, dense crown and a trunk with bark that is almost black. Leaves are smooth and dark-green on top with gray hairs on the underside, grow from 4 to 8 inches long and turn yellow-brown in the fall. Acorns are dark-brown and grow up to 1-1/4 inches long. Plant chestnut oak in full sun and a moist, well-drained soil.
Swamp White Oak
Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) grows up to 60 feet tall and 60 feet wide, becoming rounder as it matures. Give the tree full sun or partial shade and a soil that is moist to wet. The tree produces dark-green, egg-shaped leaves white-green underneath that grow up to 6 inches long and turn chartreuse, yellowish-brown, reddish-purple, golden, golden-brown in the fall. Acorns grow up to 1 inch long. The tree is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8.
Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) grows from 60 to 100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 1 to 3 feet. The tree features smooth, dark-gray bark that becomes black and scaly as it ages. Leaves are deeply lobed, grow from 3 to 6 inches long and turn a scarlet-red in the fall. Plant scarlet oak in full sun and a soil that is most to dry and well drained. The tree is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.