Pin oak trees, known scientifically as Quercus palustris, are one of the most well-known ornamental trees in the United States. They are also frequently referred to as swamp Spanish oak trees and water oak trees. Their shape is similar to that of a pyramid. Pin oak trees often appear as street trees due to their tolerance of both wet feet and clay soil, which are both uncommon traits. Pin oaks also have root systems that are fibrous and shallow, making them convenient for planting and transplanting. They also are highly tolerant of air pollution.
Pin oak trees originate in the eastern region of North America, starting from Connecticut and going all the way west to Kansas. The trees also are native to the southern portion of the Canadian province of Ontario. Pin oaks have been introduced to Australia, where they are adapted and very common. The trees also exist in Argentina in South America.
Pin oaks are one of the most rapid growing oak trees and can shoot up between 12 and 15 feet over a time frame of five to seven years. Pin oak trees can reach heights of between 50 and 75 feet tall, maximum. The trees have deep green and glossy summertime alternate leaves--those which alternate in direction--which become either red or bronze during the autumn. They bear light brown acorns that are half an inch in both width and length.
Pin oak trees can successfully be cultivated in the United States Department of Agriculture's plant hardiness Zones 4 through 8. They require soil with a pH range of 3.7 to 6.0 and do not handle soil with high pH levels well. They prefer moist soil, as well as loam, sandy and clay soil types. Pin oak trees thrive in full sun and partial shade.
Pin oak trees do not have long lifespans, especially compared with other trees that can live up to 200 years (and sometimes even longer). Pin oak trees generally live for between 90 and 120 years.
Native Americans have traditionally used the bark of pin oak trees to produce a beverage that can treat intestinal aches. Wood from pin oak trees is often used and labeled as "red oak," however, it is of slightly weaker quality than standard red oak wood, due to its abundance of tiny knots. The wood of pin oak trees is heavy, dense and hard and commonly used to make firewood.