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Scarlet Oak vs Jack Oak

These oaks are similar and difficult to tell apart in the small area where their ranges overlap; there is even some controversy over whether they constitute separate species, although most authorities nowadays consider them separate. Close examination of acorns is the most reliable way to distinguish these two oaks. These species are theorized to hybrid but the existence of hybrids has not been confirmed. It may not be possible to identify all individuals.

Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)

Jack Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

A large, fast-growing, short-lived red oak of dry upland sites, named for the dark red color of its fall foliage.
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.
Acorns usually have one or more rings of pits near their apex.
Photo © Doug Goldman, CC BY 4.0.
Acorns usually lack rings of pits near their apex, having at most one faint ring of pits.
Photo © Rob Foster, CC BY 4.0.