How to Prune Shumard's Oak


The Shumard's oak, or Quercus shumardii, is a large deciduous tree. It can reach a height of 50 to 90 feet at maturity. Shumard's oak is a beautiful shade tree whose leaves turn scarlet in the fall. It is named for Benjamin Franklin Shumard, who was a state geologist in Texas. Shumard's oak requires pruning to remove diseased, damaged, or broken branches, to maintain its size (width) within your landscape, for safety reasons (to keep it away from walkways, structures, and roofs), and to thin out the crown of the tree.

Step 1

Cut away damaged, broken, or diseased branches as soon as possible. Make a clean cut at the breaking point. (In some instances you may want to cut off the entire branch.) Clean cuts ensure that the plant will heal properly. This pruning procedure can be done at any time of the year.

Step 2

View your tree from all angles and determine if there are any branches that you need to prune to maintain size or to ensure safety. Find the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge, which is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Make your cut right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar, do not leave a stub. Do not cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge, this must be left in tact for the health of the tree. This procedure should be done when the tree is in its dormant state-- winter or early spring

Step 3

Visually inspect the crown of your tree to determine if you need to have deadwood (twigs, branches, limbs) removed. Removal of deadwood is known as "thinning", and usually it is done by a tree service. They are used to working at heights and know what branches can be pruned without hurting the health and integrity of the tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not attempt to prune branches that are in close proximity to electric wires as this is extremely dangerous--call the electric company for removal. Another danger is trying to cut large heavy branches as they can cause personal injury or property damage when they fall; this should be left to the professionals.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw


  • Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Wildflower Organization
Keywords: Shumard's Oak Prune branches, broken damaged diseased remove, dormant state winter early spring

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.