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Different Types of Oak Trees

By Rochelle Connery ; Updated July 21, 2017
Oak trees often feature tall, thick trunks and sprawling branches.
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Many Americans have oak trees in their yards, but some have no idea which oak species it is. According to Savatree, around 400 oak species exist. However, according to the United States Geological Survey, only 60 are native to North America. Each has its own habitat and climate specifications, as some oak tree types are obscure and reside in few states while others are more widespread across much of the United States.

White Oak

White oak trees grow in varied habitats. According to TreeHelp, white oak trees can withstand dry, moist or wet conditions, which makes them ideal candidates for growing on the East Coast and the midwestern United States. This species branches out with leaves that are perhaps most closely associated with the "common" oak tree, as their shape features blunt points on a tapered body. A straight trunk also characterizes the white oak tree, as do the limbs that branch off in different directions while maintaining an overall straight shape

Red Oak

Northern red oak trees can withstand chilly habitats found in the midwestern and northern United States as well as parts of Canada, while southern red oak trees have homes in the southeastern United States. Red oak leaves feature pointed lobes rather than blunt ones, though they are tapered from top to bottom as are leaves on white oak trees. Their overall build typically appears bushier than white oak tree. According to TreeHelp, they can also grow up to 100 feet tall.

Live Oak

Live oak trees commonly live in warm habitats such as Georgia, Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Its close cousin, the shrub live oak, grows in Southern California. According to the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, the live oak tree needs sandy soil, rich dirt or stream banks to survive. This oak species grows in a sprawling shape that features a short, stubby trunk base and thick, heavy limbs branching out on all sides.

Black Oak

Black oak trees typically thrive on the East Coast and in the midwestern United States, save for its relative species, the California black oak. This species features chunky tree bark that appears lumpy or knobby on the trunk. These trees do not grow very tall, but often reach heights of around 60 feet. Black oak leaves are often shiny and are typically shaped with rounded or blunt lobes.

Water Oak

The water oak tree is a largely southern species, growing mostly in the upper regions of Florida and across Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Water oaks feature thin bark that closely resembles peeling paint, while its leaves are teardrop-shaped and smooth with no pointed lobes. True to its name, the water oak thrives in watery habitats with wet soil and is known for bearing acorns.


About the Author


Rochelle Connery is a professional freelance author and has been writing skin care, travel, music and technology how-to articles since 2006. She has played piano for over 15 years, is a professional songwriter and holds her B.A. in communications from Louisiana Baptist University.