American red oak

American red oak is the dominant species in the U.S. hardwood forests – with distinctive grain, and wood that is not always red in colour. The name comes from the leaf colour in the fall. Red oak may be sold on the basis of ‘northern’, ‘southern’ and ‘Appalachian’.

Latin Name

Quercus species, mainly Quercus rubra

Other Common Names

northern red oak, southern red oak


Red oak trees grow only naturally and almost exclusively in North America, although planted elsewhere. They are widely distributed throughout most of the eastern United States in mixed hardwood forests. The trees are very tall. There are many sub-species, all within the red oak classification, which grow from north to south; some high in the mountains and others on low land giving rise to different characteristics. Thus there are significant variations in red oaks depending on location, in particular between the slower grown northern and faster grown southern trees. Red oaks are regarded as highly sustainable for both domestic and export consumption and, being the largest species group, are more abundant than the white oaks.


FIA data shows U.S. red oak growing stock is 2.62 billion m3, 18% of total U.S. hardwood growing stock. American red oak is growing 60.6 million m3 per year while the harvest is 31.9 million m3 per year. The net volume (after harvest) is increasing 28.7 million m3 each year. U.S. red oak growth exceeds or is in balance with harvest in all states except Texas. 

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