Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Quercus palustris


SPECIES: Quercus palustris
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H. 1992. Quercus palustris. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : QUEPAL SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : QUPA2 COMMON NAMES : pin oak swamp oak water oak swamp Spanish oak Spanish oak TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of pin oak is Quercus palustris Muenchh. [16]. It has been placed within the subgenus Erythrobalanus, or red (black) oak group [22]. There are no recognized varieties, subspecies, or forms. Pin oak hybridizes with the following species [16,19]: x Q. coccinea (scarlet oak) x Q. imbricaria (shingle oak): Q. Xexacta Trel. x Q. phellos (willow oak): Q. Xschochiana Dieck x Q. rubra (northern red oak): Q. Xcolumnaris Laughlin x Q. shumardii (Shumard oak): Q. Xmutabilis Palmer & Steyerm. x Q. velutina (black oak): Q. Xvaga Palmer & Steyerm. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Quercus palustris
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Pin oak occurs primarily along major rivers and on glacial till plains in the north-central and eastern United States. It is distributed from southwestern New England; west to extreme southern Ontario, southern Michigan, northern Illinois, and Iowa; south to Missouri, east Kansas, and northeastern Oklahoma; and east to central Arkansas, Tennessee, central North Carolina, and Virginia [19]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood STATES : AR CT DE IL IN IA KS KY MD MA MI MO NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI TN VT VA WV ON BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K098 Northern floodplain forest K101 Elm - ash forest K113 Southern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES : 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 62 Silver maple - American elm 65 Pin oak - sweetgum 95 Black willow SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Pin oak is found in bottomland hardwood communities. There are four variants of the SAF cover type pin oak-sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua): white oak (Quercus alba)-pin oak-sweetgum, pin oak-American elm (Ulmus americana), pin oak-red maple (Acer rubrum), and pure pin oak [8]. Nearly pure even-aged stands of pin oak are known as "pin oak flats" [19]. A pin oak-cherrybark oak (Quercus falcata var. pagodifolia) community occurs in the Mississippi River Valley in Illinois [25]. The following publication lists pin oak as a dominant species: Forests of the Illinoian Till Plain of southwestern Ohio [5]


SPECIES: Quercus palustris
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Pin oak does not self-prune, so the wood has many small knots which reduce its quality and utility. The hard, heavy wood is used locally for construction timbers, mine props, and fuel [19,23]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Pin oak acorns are an important food for wildlife including white-tailed deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, bluejays, and waterfowl. Acorns are an especially important food source for wood ducks and mallards during fall migration [19]. Bottomland hardwoods that are seasonally flooded provide nesting sites for colonial waterbirds and many passerines [15]. Pin oak is an important species in greentree reservoirs (artificially flooded areas) that attract and provide food for migrating waterfowl [19,25]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Pin oak acorns contain on average 15.4 percent crude fat, 45.4 percent total carbohydrates, 3.8 percent total protein, 0.08 percent phosphorus, 0.04 percent calcium, and 0.06 percent magnesium [4]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Pin oak is recommended for graded/top-soiled mine spoils. In southern Illinois, pin oak seedlings (both planted and direct seeded) had among the best survival and growth of nine oak species tested on graded cast overburden covered with about 16 inches (40 cm) of eroded old field surface soil [2]. Pin oak has naturally established on surface-mined lands in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma [28]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Pin oak is widely planted as a shade tree and ornamental. It transplants well and tolerates urban stresses such as street salt, acid rain, and smoke [7,1,19,26]. Black ink can be made from twig galls on pin oak [11]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Many bottomland hardwood forests were cleared for agriculture during the settlement period. Currently, some of this land is being reforested to provide wildlife habitat [1,3,21]. Pin oak is highly suited for direct seeding. Information on seed collection, storage, sowing, site preparation, and timing for bottomland hardwood reforestation is detailed [1]. Pin oak acorns can be held in cold storage (35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit [2-5 deg C]) with 90 percent viability for 2 years, possible longer [21]. To provide habitat and food for wintering waterfowl, bottomland forests composed of pin oak and other flood-tolerant, mast-producng species are often impounded during the winter. The shallow water is drawn down in the early spring to prevent tree damage. Twenty years of dormant-season flooding did not damage pin oak, although stand basal area growth was reduced 10 percent. After 25 years, however, some pin oaks had developed bole swelling at or just above the flood water level. The swelling caused fissures which provided entry for fungi [19]. Mature pin oak survived only 3 years on permanently flooded land when water levels were artificially raised by dams on the upper Mississippi River. Pin oaks 2 feet (0.6 m) above the new pool level showed increased growth rates during the 5 years after the rise in water level [10]. Pin oak can be harvested by clearcutting at 40-year intervals. Pin oak grows rapidly on alluvial soils. One stand in Illinois averaged 62 feet (18.9 m) in height and 12 inches (30.5 cm) in d.b.h. after only 35 years [25]. Pin oak is susceptible to several oak diseases, including oak wilt (Ceratocytis fagacearum), oak leaf blister (Taphrina caerulescens), pin oak blight (Endothia gyrosa), and Dothiorella canker (Dothiorella quercina). It is also susceptible to many insects, including defoliators, wood borers, gall wasps, and weevils. Some of the more important pests include gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), obscure scale (Melanaspis obscura), oak leaftier (Croesia semipurpurana), pin oak sawfly (Caliroa lineata), scarlet oak sawfly (C. quercuscoccineae), forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria), leaf roller (Argyrotaenia quercifoliana), horned oak gall wasp (Callirhytis cornigera), and gouty oak gall wasp (C. quercuspunctata) [19]. Pin oak leaves appear able to tolerate acid rain. Less than 1 percent of the total leaf area was injured when trees were exposed to simulated acid rain of pH 2.5 for 20 minutes each day for 10 days [7]. Leafed-out 2-year-old pin oak seedlings were exposed to salt solutions for 5 weeks to mimic the impact of deicing salts. The seedlings had a fairly high degree of foliar injury and high stem sodium and chloride levels, but height growth and dry matter production were not affected by the treatment [26]. Ornamental pin oaks planted on alkaline soils develop foliar chlorosis because of nutrient deficiencies [19].


SPECIES: Quercus palustris
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Pin oak is a fast-growing, native, deciduous, monoecious tree. It is physiologically mature at 80 to 100 years. Little is known of its maximum age, but one old growth stand averaged 138 years of age. On good sites, pin oak may reach 120 feet (37 m) in height and 60 inches (150 cm) in d.b.h. [19], but the tree is usually 60 to 80 feet (18-24 m) tall at maturity [22,25]. Acorns are 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) or less in length, the smallest of the tree oaks [11]. An open-grown pin oak has a well-defined main trunk through most of the wide, symmetrical crown. The upper branches are ascending, the middle branches horizontal, and the lower branches inclined downward to give pin oak a distinctive pyramidal shape. Lower branches remain alive on open-grown trees. The branches die in closed stands, but are retained for many years [19]. There are numerous small stiff branches on the trunk and larger limbs [11]. Seedlings develop a strong taproot in well-aerated soils. As trees become older, the root system becomes more fibrous [19]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: Seed production begins when the tree is about 20 years old, although open-grown trees may begin producing by 15 years. Poor acorn crops occur in 3- to 4-year intervals. Dissemination is by animals, primarily squirrels, mice, blue jays, and woodpeckers [19]. Over a 4-week period, blue jays transported and cached 54 percent of the available pin oak acorn crop from a stand on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. The high percentage may be skewed, however, because of the high number of consumers per tree on a campus compared to a forest. The mean transport distance between seed trees and caches was 0.7 mile (1.1 km), with a range of 0.06 to 1.2 miles (0.1-1.9 km). Pin oak acorns fall within the preferred size range [0.4 to 0.7 inches (1.1-1.7 cm) in diameter] of blue jays [6]. Pin oak acorns require a 30- to 40-day cold stratification period at 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (0-5 deg C). Viability is high. Acorns submerged in cold water for as long as 6 months were not damaged. A thick waxy coating on the pericap restricts water absorption [19]. Seedling establishment is often high after a good acorn crop year. In a study in southeast Missouri, there were an average of 3,500 seedlings per acre (8,650/ha) following a high mast yield [19]. Pin oaks are most likely to establish if the litter layer is 0.5 to 2 inches (1.3-5.1 cm) deep. Pin oak germination and early establishment can occur under a dense canopy, but seedlings will die after 2 to 3 years unless they are released. In a study of pin oak regeneration in southern Illinois, 1- to 2-year-old seedlings were more abundant under a closed canopy than in an open stand where the ground cover was dense. Seedlings over 5 years of age, however, were more abundant in the open stands [13]. Two-year-old pin oak seedlings subjected to three shade treatments increased their shoot/root ratio by 26 percent with increasing shade, a reaction typical of intolerant species [18]. In a study in southern Illinois, pin oak reproduction was most abundant in mixed hard-hardwood communities composed of oaks (Quercus spp.) and hickories (Carya spp.); low in mixed soft-hardwood communities composed of silver maple (Acer saccharinum), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvania), sweetgum, hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis); low in eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides)-black willow (Salix nigra) communities; low in old fields; and rare in newly formed land (ie. exposed sand bars) [14]. Pin oak seedlings are classified as intermediate in tolerance to shallow flooding during the growing season [12,19]. After 60 days of completely saturated soils, pin oak seedlings averaging 8.2 inches (20.8 cm) in height had no shoot mortality, sparse adventitious root formation, and some mortality of secondary roots. Seedlings under saturated conditions grew significantly (p<0.01) taller than the control seedlings [12]. In another study, seedlings subjected to shallow flooding (leaves and tops exposed) during the growing season survived 84 days, but root growth ceased, growth was poor, and recovery was slow. Seedlings survive only 10 to 20 days of complete inundation during the growing season. Pin oak seedlings suffer no adverse effect from dormant season flooding [19]. Vegetative reproduction: Pin oak seedlings and young trees sprout vigorously from the root collar if top-killed [19]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Pin oak occurs primarily on bottomland sites that usually flood intermittently during the dormant season but not during the growing season. These sites include clay flats, depressions where water accumulates in winter, and clay ridges of first bottoms. Pure or nearly pure stands of pin oak grow on level or near level moist uplands such as the glacial till plains of southwest Ohio, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and northern Missouri [8,19]. It grows on acidic, poorly drained, clay to clayey loam soils (Entisols and Alfisols) [19]. Overstory associates not mentioned in Distribution and Occurrence include swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), willow oak, overcup oak (Q. lyrata), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), Nuttall oak (Q. nuttallii), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum), green ash, slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa), shagbark hickory (C. ovata), river birch (Betula nigra), Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra), and American sycamore [8,19]. Shrubs and small tree associates include American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), possumhaw (Ilex decidua), and poison-ivy (Toxidendron radicans) [8]. The herbaceous understory associates include sedges (Carex spp.), bedstraw (Galium spp.), and skullcap (Scutellaria spp.) [5,25]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Pin oak is intolerant of shade. It usually occurs as a dominant or codominant in even-aged stands. Suppressed trees usually die within a few years [19]. Pin oak occurs primarily in early successional stages of bottomland forests. During drought or as the surface drainage in swamps and sloughs improves, pin oak invades and replaces the first pioneer trees such as black willow, eastern cottonwood, blackgum, swamp privet (Forestiera acuminata), and buttonbush (Cephalanthus spp.). With further surface drainage, pin oak communities are succeeded by white oak, cherrybark oak, red maple, American elm, sweetgum, and hickory [5,8,14,25]. Pin oak communities may be edaphic climaxes on heavy wet soils because they produce abundant regeneration which, if released, grows faster on these sites than competing species [8,19]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Pin oak flowers in the spring about the same time as the leaves appear. Acorns mature at the end of the second growing season and are dispersed from September through early December [19].


SPECIES: Quercus palustris
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Pin oak is susceptible to fire due to its relatively thin bark. If top-killed by fire, pin oak sprouts from the root collar [19]. Although fire is infrequent in pin oak communties during the spring and early summer because of wet conditions, surface fires may occur in the fall and winter, especially during drought years [23,25]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker


SPECIES: Quercus palustris
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Light surface fires in bottomland hardwood stands readily top-kill pin oak seedlings and saplings. Under more severe fire conditions, sawtimber-sized trees may also be top-killed. Large trees often sustain fire wounds [20,23,25]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Top-killed seedlings and young pin oak trees sprout from the root collar. Fire wounds facilitate entry of decay-causing fungi [19,20]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fire should not be used as a management tool in bottomland hardwood forests because of the susceptibility to fire of most bottomland species [20].

References for species: Quercus palustris

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5. Braun, E. Lucy. 1936. Forests of the Illinoian till plain of southwestern Ohio. Ecological Monographs. 6(1): 91-149. [8379]
6. Darley-Hill, Susan; Johnson, W. Carter. 1981. Acorn dispersal by the blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata). Oecologia. 50: 231-232. [12139]
7. Evans, L. S.; Curry, T. M. 1979. Differential responses of plant foliage to simulated acid rain. American Journal of Botany. 66(8): 953-962. [9996]
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17. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496]
18. McCarthy, Joseph J.; Dawson, Jeffrey O. 1991. Effects of drought and shade on growth and water use of Quercus alba, Q. bicolor, Q. imbricaria and Q. palustris seedlings. In: McCormick, Larry H.; Gottschalk, Kurt W., eds. Proceedings, 8th central hardwood forest conference; 1991 March 4-6; University Park, PA. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-148. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 157-178. [15309]
19. McQuilkin, Robert A. 1990. Quercus palustris Muenchh. pin oak. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: 709-714. [19606]
20. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [8919]
21. Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1): 23-28. [14611]
22. Olson, David F., Jr. 1974. Quercus L. oak. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 692-703. [7737]
23. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
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