Complete Guide to Pin Oak Trees, Quercus palustris

For a tall, shapely shade tree that looks absolutely wonderful, look no further than Pin Oak. This popular landscaping tree grows fast, provides much shade, looks beautiful in the Fall, and has a huge benefit to wildlife.

In this article:

What is a Pin Oak Tree?

The Pin Oak is a deciduous hardwood tree native to Eastern North America. Scientifically known as Quercus palustris, it grows 60′-90′ tall in full sun with moist to medium well-draining soil. In addition to being a beautifully shaped shade tree, Pin Oaks host or are used by over 150 insects, a testament to their ecological importance.

As a general rule, Pin Oaks are good trees for landscaping in residential yards or commercial spaces as they provide good shade, have an aesthetically pleasing shape, and support tons of wildlife. Their natural habitat is moist bottom lands with full sun and slightly acidic soil.[1]

Pin Oak trees get their name from their stiff, sharp small new-growth branches that grow along their limbs. These are straight, pointy, and stiff like a pin.

Reference Table

Scientific NameQuercus palustris
Common Name(s)Pin Oak, Spanish Oak, Swamp Oak, Water Oak
Native Range, USDA ZoneEastern USA, USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8
Growth Rate24″ + per year
LifespanTypical lifespan of a Pin Oak is 150-200 years.
Bloom Duration, ColorYellow/Green flowers in Early Spring
Height60′-90′ (18m-28m)
Spacing / Spread40′-60′ (12m-18m)
Light RequirementsFull Sun
Soil TypesLoam, clay soil, sandy loam.
MoistureMoist to medium, but well-drained. Can tolerate occasional flooding.
Fauna Associations / Larval HostsPin Oaks host dozens of species of butterflies and moths, plus many beetles. Deer browse saplings and foliage.
Sources [1][2][3]

What are the Benefits of Pin Oak?

Beautiful Shape

A Pin Oak tree will have a pyramidal shape when it is young. As the tree approaches full height the branches will extend out giving it a more oval or ovular shape. They look beautiful as an isolated specimen as well as arrayed in a row.

Shade Tree

Reaching towering heights of 60′-90′ combined with a 40′-60′ spread make Pin Oak trees an excellent shade tree. Spaced appropriately from a house, a pair of Pin Oaks can provide ample shade lowering air conditioning costs.

A cleaner type of Oak Tree

Acorns from Pin Oaks are small, being 1/2″ diameter or less. That cuts down on the mess of acorns that will drop in late Summer and early Fall. Lawn mowers will go right over the tops of these tiny acorns, but still allow the wildlife to enjoy them.

Other native trees such as the White Oak, Black Walnut and Sweet Gum tree also provide shade and food for wildlife. However, these trees can make quite a mess in the Fall when their nuts & seed balls start dropping onto lawns and sidewalks.

Fast Growing

Pin Oaks are very fast growing trees, growing 2 feet or more per year. In optimum conditions a Pin Oak can add more than 24″ of height per year, rivaling most other landscaping trees (even the dreaded and invasive flowering pear trees).

Ecologically Important

Pin Oaks provide nesting sites and cover for birds. They also host hundreds of insects [1], which those same birds eat! Furthermore, squirrels, deer, and other animals love to eat the acorns produced. Planting a Pin Oak is one of the most responsible things you could do to support your local wildlife and environment.

Identification and Characteristics of Pin Oak Trees


The trunk of a Pin Oak tree is very straight and singular (undivided). Pin Oaks reach an average height of 60-90′ in perfect conditions. Near the very top of mature trees the trunk may split.


The branching of Pin Oak will initially give it a pyramidal shape until it reaches maturity. Once the tree has attained nearly it’s full height, the branches will extend out and give it a more oval / oblong shape.

On mature Pin Oaks, lower branches arch toward the ground. Mid-level branches are horizontal. And upper branches are angled upwards, reaching for the sun.


The bark of Pin Oak tree is gray/brown and has slightly furrowed, rough texture. Younger trees and branches will have smoother, brown bark that will be speckled with white dots known as lenticels.

Bark of a mature Pin Oak
Bark of an immature Pin Oak Tree


Pin Oak leaves are alternate and occur on new growth grouped together. An individual leaf is 2″-6″ long by one-half as wide and pinnated, with long lobes that come to a point.

Leaves have a dark green color on the upper surface with prominent veins. The underside of the leaf is light green. Both upper and lower surfaces are quite shiny and hairless.

Fall Foliage / Leaf Color

Pin Oak leaves turn a yellow or orange-red during fall. Like other oaks, the leaves can stay on the tree throughout the Winter. Really, Pin Oaks make beautiful foliage from Spring through Winter.

A younger Pin Oak tree with a pyramidal shape


Pin Oak will produce both male and female flowers in early Spring, which last about 2 weeks. Flowers are yellow-green and produced on drooping catkins, that resembles a string 1-4″ long.

From Famartin


Pin Oak acorns (nuts) are tiny in size and round, being about 3/8″-1/2″ diameter. The general shape is globe-like with a short, tight fitting cap. Acorns are initially green, turning black when mature.

On average Pin Oaks begin producing acorns between 15-25 years of age

Are Pin Oak acorns edible?

Pin Oak acorns are edible, but bitter tasting. Soaking the acorns in boiling water for approximately 1 hour will remove much of the tannins, making them more palatable to be crushed up into a flour.


As a general rule, the root system of Pin Oaks is that of shallow lateral roots that can grow up to 18″ deep or less. And sometimes roots of mature Pin Oaks can penetrate the surface of the soil. Pin Oak trees do not have a taproot.

As stated above, sometimes as a Pin Oak matures some of the lateral roots may show on the surface of the soil.[1] This isn’t a problem for the tree as long as the roots don’t get punctured/damaged, as that can be a pathway for disease.

Are Pin Oak roots invasive or damaging?

As a general rule tree roots will not initiate any damage. However, if a crack is already present in a foundation or a pipe, then the tree root will penetrate and exploit the crack and cause further damage.

The shallow lateral roots of Pin Oaks are similar to many other trees in that they will locate any cracks in water or sewer pipes underground, as the roots want that moisture. If the pipes are perfectly sealed, then the roots will not penetrate them.

Growth Rate and Lifecycle

A Pin Oak tree will grow 24″ in height or more per year in optimum conditions. In general it won’t produce acorns until at least 15 years of age. One study in Missouri found that at 30 years of age, Pin Oaks were on average 65′ tall with an average trunk diameter of 11″.[2][3]

On Average a Pin Oak will reach full physical maturity and it’s maximum height in approximately 80 to 100 years.[4] At this time the shape will change from Pyramidal to more Oval or oblong as the branches extend.


If the Pin Oak tree has no growth barriers, then the lifespan of a Pin Oak tree is 150-200 years.[1][5] Although it is a shorter lived species of Oak, it is very common for trees to live well beyond 100 years.

Grow and Care for Pin Oak / Habitat

The natural habitat for Pin Oak is in moist soil that is slightly acidic. You can find them growing in the wild along creeks, fence-lines, or in moist woods.

An immature Pin Oak along a small creek and fence line, Southern Pennsylvania

Sunlight Requirements

Pin Oaks will grow best in full sun, which is 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. More sun will increase growth rate and size.

It will tolerate partial sun as well, but may not have as many branches due to the reduced sunlight available. It may also have frequent die-backs. So, while it is possible for a Pin Oak to grow in partial shade, it would not look good in a landscaping application.

Soil Requirements

Pin Oak can grow in most soils, sand clay or loam. It’s optimum soil would be rich with organic matter, well draining, and slightly acidic (pH of 6.5-6.8).

Moisture Requirements

As a general rule Pin Oaks prefer wet or moist soil. During dormancy in the winter and early Spring the area can flood occasionally. But during the active growing season this should not be allowed to occur.

It should grow fine in medium soil, as long as supplemental watering can be done during times of drought. As the tree grows and makes it’s own shade, drought will be less of a concern. But in general you should not plant Pin Oak trees on any slope that will be prone to drying out.

Pin Oak Planting Guide

Choosing the proper site is key to successfully planting and growing a Pin Oak tree. The secret to growing any plant successfully is to plant it in the proper location matching the conditions that it desires in the wild. In addition to that, for trees you need to take into consideration of the tree roots and spacing.

Select a location with slightly acidic, medium-to-moist soil that drains well and has at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (not dappled) per day. Make sure you space the Pin Oak at least 20′-30′ away from any structure with a foundation, so as the tree roots can reach the edge of the crown.


If you planted your Pin Oak in the soil, light, and moisture conditions that it prefers then it should not require any fertilizer. However, you can always safely add some compost when planting. And top dress compost around the drip-line each Spring.

Planting near a house or structure

If you plant a Pin Oak too close to a house, the roots will not reach their full potential. This can effect the overall crown size/look. Also, if there are any cracks present in the foundation, the roots may penetrate cracks and cause further damage. So, it is best to keep the Pin Oak away from the house by 1/2 the recommended spacing at a minimum!

Bare Root Pin Oak Trees

Pin Oak trees as bare roots are often available for mail order from some companies. Purchasing bare root trees are often a lower-cost method of obtaining more mature trees rather than container trees. Note that you often need to order bare root trees in the Fall or Winter before Spring. As the nurseries often ship to order.

Bare root trees are just that – a bare root with no soil. I’ve planted dozens of bare root trees over the years, and they are a great affordable way to get more mature trees.

Planting a Pin Oak bare root tree

To plant a bare root Pin Oak tree take care to note where the ground line is on the tree. Dig a hole slightly deeper than the distance from the ground line to the root. Then, place your bare root into the hole, holding it with one hand. Alternatively you can place it between two sticks that span the hole to hold it upright.

Begin back-filing the hole, taking care to keep the soil from covering the main trunk bark. If you wish, you can sprinkle some compost on top of the surrounding dirt. But that should be all that is required. Water the tree, and plan on watering it in times of drought.

Monitoring the soil moisture level with a meter the first year isn’t a bad idea. This is be cause it can tell you if you should water the plant. We have a all-in-1 pH/moisture meter on our recommended products page.

How to Grow Pin Oak Acorns from Seed

Pin Oak acorns can be gathered in late Summer and early Fall, when acorns are approaching ripeness. If you notice acorns naturally falling off the tree and changing from green to darker color, then you can gather them as they are starting to ripen.

Acorns of Pin Oak require a cold moist stratification period of 30-45 days.[1] And should be winter sown or cold stratified in a moist sand/vermiculite mixture.

Testing acorns viability

Not all acorns are fertile. So, follow the steps below to make sure your gathered acorns have a good chance at germination.

How to test an acorn viability for germination

  1. Gather acorns directly from the tree, not the ground. Acorns collected from the tree have less of a chance of beetle larvae infestation.
  2. Remove the acorn cap. Often the caps can be twisted off. A flat head screwdriver can also be used to pry or pop off the cap.
  3. Examine the top of the acorn for any holes. Many different beetle larvae will bore a hole into the top of the acorn, and begin eating the acorn from the inside. Discard any acorn with a hole.
    • The acorn shown in this picture, obviously has a hole in the top of it from a beetle. It will not be viable and should be discarded.
  4. Drop the acorns into a container of water and wait sixty seconds. Acorns that sink are viable. Acorns that float are not viable and should be discarded. For more background and info on the float test, as well as some summarized scientific studies, see our write up here.
In this image we have a mixture of floating and sinking acorns. The acorns that sink within 60 seconds should be viable for germination.

How to grow Pin Oak trees from germinating acorns

  1. Cold-moist stratify viable acorns. Make a mixture of 50/50 sand and vermiculite. Moisten it thoroughly so that when you squeeze a handful, only a couple drops of water drip from your hand.
  2. Fill a large zip-lock bag 50%-75% full of the sand/vermiculite mixture
  3. Place acorns into the mixture, distributing them in the middle.
  4. Place in refrigerator until ready to winter-sow or plant.
  5. In a tall, 4-6″ container (with drain holes), plant acorns 1″ deep (2.5 cm)
  6. Cover the container with some form of mesh or screen covering, and set outside in the winter. This is to protect the acorns from squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents. The squirrels can smell the acorns and will dig them up if not protected (ask me how I know this).
  7. Germination will occur in early to mid-Spring once evening temperatures warm to 13-21C.[6]
Pin Oak seedlings. The acorns were gathered from the 1st tree pictured in this article, and are pictured throughout.

After a seedling has received several sets of true leaves, it can be planted in it’s final location. Or grown in a pot for some time until Autumn.

Video Guide to Germinating Pin Oak Acorns

Below is a video we made detailing the process of selecting, testing, stratifying, and planting/germinating Pin Oak Acorns. We hope you enjoy!

Pruning Pin Oak Trees

Reasons for pruning

Pin Oak trees can be pruned to allow more space to walk/mow, allow better circulation through the tree, or if need be, to adjust the shape. According to the USDA, trees should be pruned for one of three reasons:

  1. Safety – Trees that have limbs that can fall and injure people or property. Or trees that have grown larger than the space allotted to them.
  2. Health – If a limb of a tree is diseased or has severe infestation of pests, then that limb should be removed before the disease can spread to other parts of the tree.
  3. Aesthetics and form – Trees with pedestrian traffic, or residential trees that we mow around may need lower limbs pruned to provide clearance. Also, shaping a tree may be desirable to make it more pleasing to the eye.

Since pruning upper limbs of mature Pin Oak trees carry large risks, we will focus on simple pruning of lower limbs to provide clearance to people & lawn mowers.

When should you prune Pin Oak trees

Pin Oak trees should be pruned when the tree is dormant and insect activity is at a minimum. The dead of winter around Christmas time is always a good choice. Avoid pruning in Spring, Summer, or early Fall when insects are still active.

By pruning when plants are not growing, and there are no insects, we are minimizing the chances of allowing disease

Sterilize your pruning tools

Also – always use sterilized tools when pruning a tree. You don’t want to introduce disease through pruning with contaminated tools. Soak the blades in a mixture of 1:9 bleach to water.

For extra caution, dip the blades into this mixture after each cut.

Pruning small limbs

To prune limbs that are approximately 1″ diameter, simply using loping shears or pruning shears will be sufficient. Make sure your shears are sharp enough to cut the limb without tearing/peeling bark during removal.

Locate that branch bark ridge and make a clean cut while supporting the branch with your other hand. Cut parallel to the bark ridge, just outside (toward the limb).

Pruning larger limbs

To prune larger, heavier Pin Oak limbs, you will want to employ the three cut method using a pruning saw. Again, it is very important that the tools be sterilized. Should you have fungal spores on your tool before you prune, you could introduce disease to the tree you are shaping.

A common problem when pruning larger limbs is bark peeling down the tree. We can avoid this by using the 3-cut method.

Where to cut to safely prune a limb

Each limb will have a ridge known as the branch bark ridge, which runs near the upper side of the junction of the limb and trunk. Additionally, there is a wider section beneath the limb known as the branch collar. Your cut should run just on the limb side from the ridge to the collar. In this way you don’t damage the trunk, and focus on best removing the limb.

The 3 cut method

To prune and remove a limb without damaging the rest of the tree, we will employ the 3-cut method. Per the United States Forestry Service, the 3-cut method is the most effective way for pruning larger limbs without causing unnecessary damage to a tree. Furthermore it minimizes chances of infection.

1 – The first cut

The first cut should be made several inches away from the branch collar. Cutting from the bottom towards the top, by about 1/2 the limb thickness. This cut will prevent bark peeling or bark braking, where the limb will hang down and peel the bark like a never-ending band-aid.

Bark peeling will cause significant damage to the Oak Tree. And it creates a significant path for infection to the tree.

2 – The 2nd cut

The second cut will be from the top, 2 inches beyond the first cut toward the outside of the limb. Cut all the way through the limb. This will leave a stump.

3 – The 3rd cut.

The 3rd and final cut will be from the bark branch ridge, to the branch collar, just on the ‘limb’ side. Saw the ‘stump’ off, following the imaginary line from the branch ridge to the branch collar. Making this cut minimizes the surface area of the exposed wood, allowing the tree to heal in the shortest possible time.

Click on image for PDF

Problems, Pests, and Disease

Although native trees, Pin Oaks are not without problems. There are several key environmental factors that can harm the plant, as well as several domestic and invasive pests and diseases. Every homeowner should learn to recognize the risk factors and take mitigating action against these, as prevention is the best course of action.


Root Suffocation of Oak Trees

Once established, it is very important to not dump fill soil on top of current soil that the Oak inhabits. Roots of Oak trees like to breath, and adding just 1″ (2.5 cm) of soil on top can cause the roots to suffocate and die, killing the tree completely. Research has shown that more compact soil results in less oxygen for roots, and more dieback for limbs.[7]

Bark Damage

In comparison to other Oak species, the bark of Pin Oak is thin. This makes it particularly prone to damage by lawn mowers, mechanical damage, or fire.[1]

Branches Dying

Should you notice individual branches dying on a Pin Oak tree, you should inspect the affected limb for any two-lined chestnut borers, scale insects, or canker fungus. If the limb is high up, you should consider contacting a professional tree service. With many Oak diseases and pests, quick action can be the difference between life and death of the tree.

Pin Oak leaves turning yellow / Iron Chlorosis

Should you notice Pin Oak leaves yellowing, or turning yellow, then there can be a few causes. If soil pH is high (>7.0) the Pin Oak can suffer from Iron chlorosis. This can only be corrected by lowering the pH level back to a slightly acidic level.

Alternatively, if the pH is ok, then you may consider a light top dressing of compost within the drip-line to correct any other nutrient imbalance.


The two-lined chestnut borer can damage Pin Oaks. Also, like may other species of Oak the Pin Oak is susceptible to defoliation by the invasive Gypsy Moth, tent caterpillars, and attack by scale insects.

You should periodically inspect your trees during the growing season for any of these pests, and if found, contact an arborist. Although some of these insects can be treated by the average DIY homeowner, it may prove beneficial long-term to use a professional considering the time invested in growing mature landscape trees.

Gypsy Moth

An invasive pest that arrived some years ago has been reeking havoc in Oak forests throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Gypsy Moth caterpillars can defoliate and damage many species of Oak Trees.[8]

Homeowners should inspect trees for infestations, as well as remove possible nesting sites. Females lay eggs on piles of firewood, rock, and dead branches. Should you notice an egg mass on one of those, remove it. Also, if there is a high concentration of gypsy moths on a tree, insecticides are an option (but you will likely kill beneficial insects as well).

Galls on Oak Trees

There are two different wasps that may lay eggs on twigs of Oak Trees that result in ugly golf-ball sized galls. One is commonly referred to as horned oak gall, while the other is gouty oak-gall. These unsightly galls persist for years even after the wasp larvae has exited. And if the infestation is bad enough can result in dead limbs.

There is no standard treatment for this problem. Since the larvae may take two years to exit a gall, a single pesticide application will not be effective. Furthermore, any pesticide application can result in harm to all beneficial insects that may prey on the larvae (a natural defense).

If you notice a small number of galls that can be reached with a pole saw, then you should remove them. Otherwise, if you see a large infestation, it is best to contact a professional arborist to consult with to determine the most effective remedy.


Scale is a pest that infects Pin Oaks (and several other hardwoods). There are several different types of scale that can infect Pin Oak. Scale insects are sap-suckers that rob the branches of nutrients.

Since there are many different types, it may be best to call a professional to identify the specific type of scale, and treat it. However I will provide some info of two common Scale types that effect Pin Oak trees:

Obscure Scale

The key symptom to look for is die-back of limbs and branches, and small bumps on the tree, sunken or pitted areas on the bark, giving it a roughened appearance. The bumps are approximately 1/4″ diameter and have waxy covers with a black center for “Obscure Scale”.[9]

Obscure Scale will primarily attack younger twigs. Finding the problem early will make management much easier.

Lorraine Graney, Bartlett Tree Experts,

Control is difficult, as new bugs often settle in where the previous bugs lived, which provides it with some protection from pesticides. But you can spray an insecticide during summer when Obscure scale is active.

Kermes Scale

Another form of scale is Kermes scale, which can be controlled with an oil spray in the Spring while the tree is dormant. This must be applied before the tree leaves emerge in Spring. An additional spray in the fall can can further kill scale that was missed, as they migrate during the fall.[10]

Kermes Scale on Pin Oak. Credit – Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,


Oak Wilt

A common and fatal disease can be a fungus commonly known as Oak Wilt.

Oak Wilt is a fungus spread by the Nitidulid Beetle that disrupts the water circulation system in an Oak Tree and is often fatal. Recently pruned limbs or damaged bark will attract the Beetle and infect the tree. Once infected, it is difficult to cure or stop.

Prevention is the best strategy against Oak Wilt. Only prune trees during Fall/Winter when insect activity is at a minimum. Do not prune or damage trees between February or June. Due the thin bark on Pin Oaks (previously noted) it is important to be careful with lawn mowers and trimmers, as any puncture wounds can lead to infection via the beetle.

If you suspect you have the disease, or any nearby Oak Tree has the disease, contact a professional arborist to develop a containment plant. That is the best way to save as many Oak trees as possible.

Leaf Blister Fungus

Primarily a cosmetic disease, Leaf Blister fungus will effect young emerging leaves in the Spring. Maintaining a healthy tree is the best prevention. Even if nothing is done, it is likely that the disease will lessen throughout the growing season.

Canker Fungus

Canker Fungus is an opportunistic pathogen that can harm and infect weak or stressed trees. The primary system will be a black canker or tumor like growth on the trunk, leading the bark to pop off and showing a fungal mat underneath.

Once the black canker is visible, it is often fatal for the tree. Healthy Oak trees are able to fight off any infection. Once infection takes hold, it is likely fatal.

Wildlife associated with Pin Oak

Over the last several years, Oak Trees have regained prominence in regards to wildlife. Or should I say, humans are recognizing their value again. Most of this can be due to the work of Doug Tallemy, who is a major proponent of native plants.

But his books have highlighted the importance of Oak Trees to the ecological food web. Some of the relationships I will now highlight below.


Caterpillars of six species of Hairstreak butterflies feed on the foliage. These include the Banded Hairstreak, Edward’s Hairstreak, Red-Banded Hairstreak, and White Hairstreak.

Also caterpillars of Juvenal’s Duskywing and the Sleepy Duskywing feed on the foliage.


There are too many species of moth to list individually in the article. But researchers have documented over 80 species of moth that depend on the Pin Oak. This fact alone makes it one of the most valuable native Plants in all of North America.


In addition to butterflies and moths, Pin Oak also supports various beetles. In all there are over sixty different species of beetle supported by Pin Oak. Everything from wood boring beetles to leaf miners, and even some that only feed on dead branches.


The acorns that fall from the Pin Oak tree will attract deer, chipmunks, mice, and other small mammals. Acorns in particular are a valuable food source for deer.


Pin Oak trees attract numerous species of birds and fowl. Wild Turkey, Mallard and wood duck, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse and Blue Jays eat the acorns. Additionally several birds nest in Pin Oaks including the Blue-Gray Gnat-catcher, Northern Parula, Summer Tanger, Yellow-Throated Vireo, and Swainson Hawk.

When grown near water the Pin Oak can also be a nesting site for Herons, egrets and other birds.

Where you can buy Pin Oak

Pin Oak saplings are readily available from nurseries and garden centers. It is a popular choice for residential landscaping due to it’s shape, shade potential, and general attractiveness. Pin Oaks really is a stately looking tree, and the leaves are quite unique and interesting with their fine pinnation.

Also, bare roots are available from many companies. One company that specializes in bare roots is Cold Stream Farm out of Michigan. I have purchased from them several times in the past and always had excellent trees. I have no affiliation with them, but just feel that had high quality trees.

Where to get acorns

Since Pin Oaks are common landscaping trees, you may have one in your neighborhood. So, if you are out for a walk or driving around, keep your eyes open for the general shape and leaf of a Pin Oak. Come late summer or early Fall, you can probably collect acorns for free.

The pictures of Pin Oak seedlings you saw a few sections above were germinated from one of my neighbor’s trees. You can’t beat that price!

Uses of Pin Oak

Landscape Uses

The Pin Oak makes an excellent tree for landscaping due to it’s shapely beauty, large amount of shade it can produce, and ability to support so much wildlife without making a large mess as it has small acorns. The versatility of soil and moisture conditions allow Pin Oak to be used nearly anywhere within it’s hardiness zone.

==>Related Looking for a larger Oak specimen? Try White Oak. Click here to see our profile on White Oak.

It can make a great residential shade tree or street tree. Large amounts of shade produced by trees can greatly reduce the urban heat island effect, lowering air temperatures near ground. This will make a street much more comfortable for people to inhabit, raising the quality of life.

Lumber Uses

As a general rule, Pin Oak lumber is good for woodworking, cabinet making, or for use in furniture. Although it normally does have frequent, albeit small knots. The lumber will stain and finish nicely, and is a low-cost hardwood in North America.

Pin Oak belongs to the Red Oak family. It has a Janka hardness of approximately 1,500 lbf (6,650 N). It is coarse grained with medium to large pores. But, it is a great piece of wood to make a carving mallet.

Related ==> Learn to make your own DIY Mallet from a piece of firewood here

Medicinal Uses

The Delaware tribe used an infusion of the inner Pin Oak Bark medicinally to treat intestinal pain.[11] This was the only medicinal use I was able to locate for Pin Oak.

Pin Oak acorns being edible

Acorns from the Pin Oak can be ground into a flour and used for making bread, pancakes, muffins, etc. Extra preparation is necessary as Pin Oak is within the Red Oak group, and acorns from Red or Black Oaks have many tannins that give a bitter taste.

The shell must be opened and the nut extracted. Then, grind the nuts into a powder. One then needs to extract the tannins. This is done by soaking in boiling water repeatedly until the water no longer turns brown. You then need to dry the flower in an oven or in the sun, then regrind it as it will ‘cake’ during the drying process.

The resulting flower can be blended with wheat flour or cornmeal. But per Alan Hall, author of the classic handbook, The Wild Food Trail Guide, “Pancakes, bread, and muffins prepared from it are a rich black and have a pleasant, rather nutty, flavor.”[12]

Read About More Native Trees Here


[1] – Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson, Quercus palustris, United States Forestry Service, Fact Sheet ST-555, October 1994

[2] – Rogers, Robert, and Ivan L. Sander. 1989. Flooding, stand structure, and stand density and their effect on pin oak growth in southeastern Missouri. In Proceedings of The Fifth Biennial Southern Silviculture Research Conference, p. 299-320. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report SO-74. Southern Forest Experiment Station, New Orleans, LA.

[3] – Minckler, Leon S. 1965. Pin oak (Quercus palustris Muenchh.). In Silvics of forest trees of the United States. p. 603-606. H. A. Fowells, comp. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 271. Washington, DC.

[4] – Bryant, W. S. 1978. An unusual forest type, hydromesophytic, for the Inner Blue Grass Region of Kentucky. Castanea 43:129-137.

[5] – Fitzsimons, Stefanie Ann. Environmental factors related to pin oak (Quercus palustris ) radial growth within a floodplain of higher hydroecological integrity. Western Illinois University. Master of Science Thesis, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2012.

[6] – Matsuda, Kozue, and Joe R. Mcbride. “Germination Characteristics of Selected California Oak Species.” The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 122, no. 1, 1989, pp. 66–76. JSTOR, Accessed 17 July 2021.

[7] – Gary W. Watson, Patrick Kelsey, The impact of soil compaction on soil aeration and fine root density of Quercus palustris, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2006, Pages 69-74, ISSN 1618-8667,

[8] – Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth), Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Retrieved 16JUL2021,

[9] – Gregory A. Hoover Sr., Extension Associate, Armored Obscure Scale, Pennsylvania State Extension. 2003 Retrieved 16JUL2021

[10] – 1400-11 – Kermes Scale on Oak trees, Colorado State University Extension, Fort Collins, Colorado

[11] – North American Ethnobotany Database Retrieved 16JUL2021

[12] – Hall, Alan. The Wild Food Trailguide. Holt McDougal, 1976, pp 68-69.

Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over 10 years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! You may have seen some of my videos I create on our YouTube channel, GrowitBuildit (more than 10 million views!). You can find my channel here: Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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