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Quercus rubra L.
Trees with large nuts only one-fourth covered by flat saucer-shaped cups often are treated as Quercus rubra var. rubra ; those with smaller nuts one-third covered by cup- or bowl-shaped cups are treated as Q . rubra var. borealis (F. Michaux) Farwell. While E. J. Palmer (1942) suggested that these two varieties do not breed true, K. M. McDougal and C. R. Parks (1986) found evidence of correspondence between morphologic types and flavonoid chemotypes. This is one of the most important ornamental and timber trees in the genus.
Native Americans used Quercus rubra for a number of medical purposes, including the treatment of sores, weakness, lung problems, sore throat, dysentery, indigestion, chapped skin, chills and fevers, lost voice, asthma, cough, milky urine, hear trouble, blood diseases, and Italian itch, and as an appetizer (D. E. Moerman 1986).
Quercus rubra reportedly hybridizes with Q . coccinea (= Q . × benderi Baenitz) and Q . ellipsoidalis (P. C. Swain 1972; R. J. Jensen et al. 1993); with Q . ilicifolia (= Q . × fernaldii Trelease), Q . imbricaria [ Q . × runcinata (A. de Candolle) Engelmann], and Q . marilandica (E. J. Palmer 1948; D. M. Hunt 1989); with Q . nigra (D. M. Hunt 1989); and with Q . palustris (= Q . × columnaris Laughlin), Q . phellos (= Q . × heterophylla F. Michaux), Q . shumardii (= Q . × riparia Laughlin), and Q . velutina (= Q . × hawkinsii Sudworth).
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Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
In the north, northern red oak grows on cool moist Boralf and Orthod Spodosols. Elsewhere it grows on warm, moist soils including Udalf Alfisols, Dystrochrept and Fragiochrept Inceptisols, Udoll Mollisols, Rhodic Paleudult, Humic and Mesic Hapludult Udult Ultisols, and small areas of Udipsamment Entisols. The most widespread soils are the Udalfs and Udolls (33).
These soils are derived from glacial material, residual sandstones, shale, limestone, gneisses, schists, and granites. They vary from clay to loamy sands and some have a high content of rock fragments. Northern red oak grows best on deep, welldrained loam to silty, clay loam soils (24).
Although northern red oak is found in all topographic positions, it always grows best on lower and middle slopes with northerly or easterly aspects, in coves and deep ravines, and on well-drained valley floors. It grows at elevations up to 1070 m (3,500 ft) in West Virginia and up to 1680 m (5,500 ft) in the southern Appalachians (24).
The most important factors determining site quality for northern red oak are depth and texture of the A soil horizon, aspect, and slope position and shape. The best sites are found on lower, concave slopes with a northerly or easterly aspect, on soils with a thick A horizon, and a loam to silt loam texture. Other factors may affect site quality in localized areas such as depth to water table in southern Michigan and annual precipitation up to 1120 mm (44 in) in northwestern West Virginia (2,24).
More info for the terms: litter, natural, tree
Seed: Northern red oak generally first bears fruit at 25 years of age,
although most trees do not produce acorns in abundance until 50 years of
age . On extremely favorable sites trees as young as 10 years may
bear some fruit . Northern red oak produces good crops every 2 to 5
years . Yields vary by individual as well as with weather
conditions and site factors. Relatively large, dominant or codominant
individuals with open crowns typically produce more acorns than do trees
with small, restricted crowns. Trees with a 16 inch (41 cm) d.b.h. can
yield 800 acorns per year, and trees with a d.b.h. of 20 to 22 inches
(51-56 cm) can yield 1,600 acorns per year . Larger trees tended to
be less productive. Total acorn production may range from 100 to more
than 4,100 per tree . In a single year, northern red oak trees
produced a combined total of nearly 14,000 sound acorns per acre in a
mixed oak stand in southern Michigan . Cold, rainy weather during
flowering can result in poor seed production .
Under carefully controlled conditions, acorns can be stored for up to 2
or 3 years . After 52 months in storage, only a few acorns
remained viable. In good acorn years up to 80 percent of the crop is
commonly destroyed, and in poor years virtually the entire acorn crop
can be eliminated by birds, mammals, and insects .
Germination: Acorns of northern red oak are characterized by variable
dormancy which requires stratification for germination . Dormancy
varies by the individual seed , but northern seeds often require
longer stratification . Under natural conditions, acorns generally
germinate in the spring after dormancy is broken by over-wintering .
Delayed germination may occur but is very rare . Seeds can be
stratified at 35 to 41 degrees F (2-5 degrees C) for several months
Acorns germinate best in soil which is covered by a layer of leaf litter
. In one study, 80 percent of all planted acorns germinated
compared with less than 1 percent of acorns left on the soil surface.
Domestic animals such as pigs and cows may promote germination by
trampling the soil and "planting" the acorns, and by reducing competing
herbaceous vegetation . Seeds on the soil surface are particularly
vulnerable to rodent predation . In an Iowa study all seeds present
on top of the litter layer were destroyed by rodents compared with 68
percent of buried seeds .
Seed dispersal: Seeds of northern red oak are primarily dispersed by
birds and mammals. Scatter-hoarders such as the gray squirrel are
particularly important dispersal agents in some areas . Gray
squirrels bury as much as 19 percent of the available acorn crop and
fail to recover many seeds over the winter . Scatter-hoarders
typically disperse seed a few yards from the source tree. Mice and
chipmunks are short-distance dispersers and usually move seeds 33 to 98
feet (10-30 m) . Blue jays are effective long-distance dispersal
agents and can transport seed from several hundred yards to 2 or 3 miles
(4-5 km) [25,53,57]. Evidence suggests that blue jays prefer to cache
acorns on open sites or at forest margins . Gravity may aid in seed
Seedling establishment: Seedling establishment is generally limited to
years of abundant acorn production . However, advance regeneration
is usually present. In mature stands, seedlings may number up to 7,000
per acre (2,824/ha), but few survive more than a few years or grow to
more than 6 or 8 inches (15-20 cm) in height . Seedlings require
adequate soil moisture for survival and good early development .
Early growth may be reduced by a combination of shade, low soil
fertility, and competing herbaceous vegetation [60,61]. Shading alone
has little effect on initial seedling establishment .
Vegetative regeneration: Northern red oak commonly sprouts vigorously
after plants are damaged or killed by fire or mechanical injury .
Small poles, saplings, and even seedlings can sprout if cut or burned
. Although young oaks typically stump sprout more readily than do
older or larger individuals, northern red oaks up to 22 inches (56 cm)
in diameter have produced sprouts . Stump sprouts derived from
larger stems tend to grow faster than those derived from smaller,
damaged stems. Individuals 20 to 25 years of age regardless of size
produce an average of four or five sprouts .
Repeated sprouting is common in northern red oak ; many seedlings
die back to the ground level periodically. Seedling sprouts with root
collars up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter often develop after repeated
damage . After repeated fires, these stems may develop "stools" or
areas comprised of callus tissue filled with dormant buds. Seedlings
often develop an "s"-shaped curve at ground level which helps protect
dormant buds from fire . Cycles of dying back and sprouting can
result in crooked, flat-topped, or forked stems .
Root sprouting also occurs . Sprouts that develop at or below the
ground level are less likely to decay than are sprouts that develop
relatively high on the parent stump . Epicormic buds located
beneath the bark of older oaks commonly sprout when older trees are
damaged or after openings are created by heavy thinning [101,122].
Bud dormancy is largely controlled by auxins rather than by levels of
carbohydrate reserves . Apical dominance can restrict the
development of belowground buds when buds survive on aboveground
portions of the plant. Sprouting is reduced by low light levels 
and decreases as the stand ages . The number of sprout groups
decreases from poor to good sites . Initial sprout growth is
typically rapid .
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Industry: Northern red oak is an important source of hardwood lumber. The wood is close-grained, heavy, and hard; it machines well and accepts a variety of finishes. It is used for furniture, veneer, interior finishing, cabinets, paneling, and flooring as well as for agricultural implements, posts, and railway ties.
Wildlife: Northern red oak provides good cover and nesting sites (including cavities) for a wide variety of birds and mammals. Deer, elk, moose, and rabbits commonly browse leaves and young seedlings and the acorns are eaten by a wide variety of large and small mammals and birds.
Ethnobotanic: The acorns of red oak (and other oak species) were an important food source for Native Americans. To remove bitter tannins, they were boiled, leached with ashes, soaked for days in water, or buried over winter. Some tribes used red oak bark as a medicine for heart troubles and bronchial infections or as an astringent, disinfectant, and cleanser.
Conservation: Northern red oak is commonly planted as a landscape tree in eastern North America and Europe -- used as a shade tree on lawns, parks, campuses, golf courses, etc, where space is sufficient. It is fast growing, easy to transplant, tolerant of urban conditions (including dry and acidic soil and air pollution), the abundant nuts attract wildlife, and the leaves develop a brick-red fall color. It has been used in various rehabilitation projects, including revegetation of coal mine spoils in states of the east central United States (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania).
AL AR CT DE FL GA IL IN IA KS
KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NE
NH NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN
VT VA WA WV WI NB NS ON PE PQ
In the wide area over which northern red oak grows, mean annual precipitation varies from about 760 mm (30 in) in the Northwest to about 2030 mm (80 in) in the southern Appalachians. Annual snowfall ranges from a trace in southern Alabama to 254 cm (100 in) or more in the Northern States and Canada. Mean annual temperature is about 4° C (40° F) in the northern part of the range and 16° C (60° F) in the extreme southern part. The frost-free period averages 100 days in the North and 220 days in the South (24).
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More info for the term: phanerophyte
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure