Virginia Tech® home

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published May 2009, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: Deciduous broadleaf Height: 70 feet

Spread: 40 feet

Shape: Upright pyramidal in youth, oval at maturity This large oak has wine-red foliage in the fall.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 4 to 8

Light: Partial shade to full sun

Moisture: Wet to moist to average

Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay

pH Range: 3.7 to 6.0


Suggested uses for this plant include shade and specimen plant.

Planting Notes:

Readily transplants due to fibrous root system.

Prefers moist, rich, well-drained acid soil and full sun. Do not plant in high pH or compacted soils. Tolerates wet, clay soils.


Prune to establish one central leader (trunk).


Grows poorly in alkaline and compacted soils.


Consult local garden centers, historic or public gardens and arboreta regarding cultivars and related species that grow well in your area.

Cultivars of Quercus palustris:

  • 'Sovereign' has lower branches that do not droop.
  • 'Crownright' is similar to the `Sovereign', but with a more narrow and upright shape.


In about the first thirty years, the branching habit of the native pin oak is truly unique. The upper branches are ascending, the middle ones horizontal, and the lower ones drooping. The drooping lower branches make pin oak a poor street tree. It is better placed in locations where the lower branches will not be a nuisance.

Suitable for bonsai.

This material was developed by Carol Ness as part of the Interactive Design and Development Project funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

March 5, 2024

Available As

Other resources in:

Other resources by: