A tree feature: The Pin Oak

Pin Oak : A tree feature

It’s been a while since we did a tree feature, so today we will be profiling a tree that is commonly used for landscaping, the Pin Oak.

Whilst we are currently in lockdown, if you have the time and energy this is a great opportunity to think ahead and look at your landscape and decide if you’d like to develop your space further.

The scientific name for Pin Oak is Quercus Palustris.

Historically, it was named Pin Oak, because its hard wood was used for pins in old wooden building construction. Although some argue that the name “Pin Oak” probably comes from the many small, slender twigs.

Where is it found?

Pin Oak is native to the eastern and central parts of the United States of America as well as the Southern parts of Canada. The Pin Oak is widespread across the Australian continent and the Rio de la Plata region of Argentina. It is also well adapted to life in South Africa. They grow on poorly drained and river-bottom soils with high clay content.

How does it look?

Pin oak is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing up to 18–22 metres tall. The trunk can grow up to 1 metre diameter. It has an 8–14 metre spread. Young Pin Oak trees  can be spotted by their straight, columnar trunk with smooth bark and a pyramidal canopy. At the age of 10 years old, it will be about 8 metres tall. When it gets to the age of 40, it develops more rough bark with a loose, spreading canopy. This canopy’s upper branches point upwards while the middle branches are at right angles to the trunk. The lower branches droop downwards. The leaves are 5–16 cm long and 5–12 cm wide, lobed, with five or seven lobes. Each of the lobes has five to seven bristle-tipped teeth. The leaves are mostly hairless and pale orange-brown. In autumn a Pin Oak leaf will change to bronze, though some may be red for a time.

What is the purpose of Pin Oak?

Pin Oak can easily transplant, grows relatively fast, and has a high pollution tolerance, it is the most commonly used for landscaping. Its wood is often marketed as red oak with significantly inferior quality. It is generally used for firewood, but since it is hard and heavy and is also used in general construction. Pin Oak is also grown in large gardens and parks in the United Kingdom, in fact it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Is it easy to grow?

Pin Oaks thrive in moist and wet soil. In fact, they are considered swamp oaks. The soil needs to be slightly acidic and a PH that is below 6.8. Pin Oaks do not have deep taproots so transplanting with field-grown oaks is not problematic. It can be planted anywhere even on your own property as the root damage potential is low. It is planted in late Autumn or early Spring. Planting Pin Oak is as easy as removing the grass and weeds from the area, digging a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide, and watering it after planting.

If you are seeking to grow a tree in your backyard for some perfect shade then Pin Oak might be the tree for you. It is easy to grow, easy to maintain and easily accessible. At Just Trees, we have a wide selection of trees, including the Pin Oak. Head on over to our website and let’s begin the conversation and discuss the best tree for your environment.



  1. Jaclyn Becker (Post author)