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Pin Oak vs Jack Oak

These species have no overlap in terms of habitat, with pin oak preferring poorly-drained bottomlands and northern pin oak limited to extremely dry sites on uplands. However, they are still sometimes confused, especially when planted in landscaping in areas they would not naturally be found. Their leaf shapes are extraordinarily similar, and both retain dead branches.

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

Jack Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

A red oak of bottomland areas, with a large, heavy central trunk and abundant, small side branches.
A cold-hardy, drought-tolerant oak mostly found in a small region of the upper midwestern U.S. Also called Northern Pin Oak, but more closely related to other species than pin oak.
Acorn cap covers little of the nut. Smaller acorns with stout shape.
Photo © Ron Burkert, CC BY 4.0.
Acorn cap covers 1/3rd to 1/2 the nut. Longer acorns, and long relative to their width.
Photo © Doug Goldman, CC BY 4.0.
Leaves average fewer awns or points (10-30) at lobe tips. Sinuses more open, not curving back around to close in a C-shape.
Photo © Claire Secrist, Public Domain.
Leaves average more awns or points (15-55) at lobe tips. Sinuses between lobes more likely to curve to form or almost form a C-shape.
Photo © Rob Foster, CC BY 4.0.