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© Shirley Zundell

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collage of Northern Red Oak and Black Oak

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) vs. Black Oak (Quercus velutina)

Updated January 23rd, 2021

Although these species sometimes look blatantly different, significant variation in individual leaf shape and other characteristics can make these species challenging to tell apart in some cases. There is some overlap in habitat, with black oak preferring slightly drier sites and northern red oak being more shade-tolerant. The two species can also hybridize and form intergrades, so it may not be possible to identify all individuals.

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