The sawtooth oak is a species non-native to the United States but introduced in 1862 because of some of its assets. A species of Korea, Japan and China, the sawtooth oak is a fast-growing oak and produces heavy crops of acorns upon which wildlife feast. It has the ability to serve as a windbreak in winter as well as summer.
The sawtooth oak has a wide distribution in the United States today, with deliberate plantings and the propagation of its seeds by birds and small mammals responsible for this. The tree grows from southern New England into New York State southward into the northern sections of Florida. The western border of its range includes states such as Oklahoma and Texas. The tree can withstand climates where the temperatures drop as low as minus 10 degrees F, says the National Wild Turkey Federation website, an organization interested in the tree because turkeys love to eat its acorns.
The typical sawtooth oak grows to be 40 to 60 feet tall and has a thick round canopy of branches. As the branches spread out on a maturing tree, it can become as wide as it is tall. The leaves are as long as 7 1/2 inches but just 2 to 2 1/2 inches in width. The acorns can develop to be as long as 1 inch.
The leaves of a sawtooth oak grow alternate on the tree's twigs, a characteristic of most oaks. The leaves are oblong and have a glossy surface. The leaves give the tree its name, as they possess a series of serrations along their edges that you will definitely notice as you run your fingers down them. In the fall, the leaves turn from their green shade to yellow before going to brown. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources website says the leaves that exist on the ends of the twigs come off but the rest will persist through the winter months before coming off in spring. Birds and small mammals such as squirrels will use the tree as a buffer from severe weather in the cold months.
The species has many uses in landscaping, as it is a good fit as a shade tree that can attract wildlife and works well in scenarios such as parks and golf courses. The size of its canopy means you would have to give it room to grow on your lawn. You can transplant this oak with few problems and it will grow best in acidic ground that has a history of draining well when it rains. The leaves staying on the tree in winter means you can choose to plant a row of these oaks as a windbreak on your property.
The cap affixed to the sawtooth oak's acorn covers half of the fruit. The bark resembles that of other oaks in that it develops ridges and furrows. It is gray to a brown-gray color. Sawtooth oaks have male and female flowers on the same tree, making them monoecious. The male flowers are drooping and green-yellow, while the female flowers take two whole years to develop fully before producing the acorns.