Content Detail

Pin oak is an Illinois native and has been widely planted in landscapes for many years. Unfortunately this tree suffers greatly from chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves due to high soil pH. This can be a very serious problem in this species, so pin oak is no longer recommended for landscapes in areas with high soil pH. In areas where chlorosis is not a problem, this tree can provide russet to red fall color.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Beech
  • Family (botanic) Fagaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 60-70 feet
  • Mature width 40-50 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval, Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Game birds, Game mammals, Migrant birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to low-land wet areas. C-Value: 8. 

Bark color and texture:

Smooth gray bark develops shallow, dark fissures with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple leaves are arranged alternately on the twig. They are lobed with bristle tips. Color is medium green in summer, changing to russet or red if chlorosis is not present.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Inconspicuous, male catkins and small female flowers appear on the same tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed description:

Small acorn (1/2 inch) has a thin cap.

Plant care:

Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) is a severe problem on this tree when planted in alkaline soils. Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Oak wilt and oak blister are potential disease problems. Insect problems mostly limited to galls. Chlorosis can cause serious damage and decline.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift