Southern Red Oak (Spanish Oak)

Quercus falcata
Fagaceae (oaks)

A large tree with a long, straight trunk, open, rounded crown and spreading branches.

Leaves alternate, simple, 7–9 inches long, with a rounded base; variable in shape; with 3–5 bristle-tipped lobes, first pair of lobes usually the largest and longest, often sickle-shaped, notch of the lobes wide and nearly to the midvein. Upper surface dark green, shiny; lower surface paler with light brown to grayish-white matted hairs. Leaves often droop; turn reddish-brown in fall. The 3-lobed leaves are distinctive.

Bark grayish-black, broken into deep grooves, becoming ridged and rough-plated near the base, not scaly. Inner bark only slightly yellow.

Twigs stout, reddish-brown, hairy at first, smooth later.

Flowers April–May, in catkins.

Fruits September–October, acorns single or in pairs, brown, faintly striped, round, ½ inch long; cup covering about 1/3 of the nut, thin, scales flattened, with a reddish-brown dark border, hairy. Ripening in autumn of the second year.

Height: to 90 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs on acid soils of chert, or sandstone on upland ridges and hills, or on sand and gravel hills of Crowley's ridge in the Bootheel, or in valley or river bottom woods. This species is native to the southeastern United States, and Missouri's southern and Bootheel counties represent one of the northwestern limits of its range.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Missouri is on the northwestern edge of southern red oak range. It is found on dry upland sites in southeast Missouri and in counties along the Arkansas border.
Human connections: 
Southern red oaks stand like venerable sentinels over many of America's most deeply historical places, from Texas to Florida to New Jersey, from Mount Vernon to Yorktown, from Natchitoches to Appomattox, from Selma to Montgomery. Its lumber is useful; it makes an excellent shade tree.
Ecosystem connections: 
Many species of birds, including woodpeckers and wild turkey, eat the acorns, and so do mice, squirrels, raccoon, and white-tailed deer.
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