Pin Oak vs Red Oak – What’s the difference?

Oaks are very popular all around the world. Oak trees are in the genus of the beech family and cover evergreen and deciduous species ranging from the Americas to Europe and Asia to North Africa. Pin and red oak are amongst the popular species of oak. They are widely and commonly found in the North American region, and both have very similar characteristics in many areas.

Pin Oak vs Red Oak – Difference

Pin oak and red oak belong to the same family and bear somewhat similar features. However, they are different from one another. The main distinction can be made regarding their leaves, growth habits, and acorns. Pin oak is usually found on wet and sunny sites, while red oak is native to drier and shaded areas or sites. The leaves of red oak are more lobed with around 7-9 pointed lobes, while pin oak is also lobed but ranges only about 5-7 lobes.

These are the main differences between the two oak species. However, there are more features that can help identify pin oak apart from red oak. Let us discuss them below.

Pin oak

Pin oak is a commonly found oak species in the North American region. They are moderately tall trees and can grow about 50-80 feet in height. They are also very dense and conical in nature compared to others. Pin oak is widely grown in moist and wet sites with acidic soil.

The leaves of pin oak are long but smaller than red oak and are deeply lobed with 5-7 narrow lobes along with U-shaped and circular sinuses. Lobes that are nearer to the base of the leaves extend nearly perpendicular to the midrib, and the central veins curve outward.

The bark of the young pin oak is light gray in color and is very smooth. With time, these barks tend to turn brown and also become slightly rigid. The acorns of pin oak are light brown in color and are much smaller than red oak acorns. Further, pin oaks have a single-trunk habit and a lifespan of 150-200 years.

Red oak

Red oak is also a commonly known and grown species of oak that is native to the Northern American region. Red oaks are tall trees that can grow up to 80-115 feet in height with longer branches than pin oak. Red oak is widely grown in well-drained loamy soil and drier sites with acidic soil.

The leaves of red oak are often broader than pin oak and have around 7-11 lobes, and the leaves are usually very deeply sinuate. Lobes that are nearer to the base of the leaf are angled forward, and the veins of the lobes curve outward less.

The bark of young red oak is usually light gray in color and is considerably smooth. With time, the bark tends to change from brown to black in color and becomes ridged and furrowed. The acorns of red oak are larger than pin acorns and are about 1 inch long. Further, the lifespan of red oaks is more than pin oaks and can live for 350-400 years.

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