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Scarlet oak versus northern red oak

11 years ago

I'd like to plant faster growing oak tree in my yard and have narrowed my search down to the northern red oak and scarlet oak. Some sources (including one of the folks at my local nursery) say these two trees are very similar save for the scarlet which has more dependable red fall foliage. However, other sources I have read say the scarlet oak has an open and irregular crown and holds dead branches (see link below for example).

When a read the Scarlet has an open irregular crown I picture a scraggly looking tree, something I would rather not plant on my property. My question for the group is does the N Red Oak form a fuller more uniform crown than a Scarlet? In general does the scarlet oak really have more reliable red fall foliage than a Northern Red Oak would? Are there any other advantages to one over the other?

For reference I live in the City of Lansing and the tree would be planted in an open area with 20' or so from the nearest structure or tree.

One other side question: when I was at my local nursery looking at their tree stock I noticed some of their oak trees had their main leader cut at the top of the tree. I thought this was odd and mentioned it to the gentleman that was helping me out. He noted some of their tree supplies will cut the leaders to get a more 'bushy' tree. I thought that was odd. I always picture an oak tree having a nice straight trunk. But, maybe that's a good look for an oak or there's some other advantage to having a fork in the trunk that I'm not aware of??

Here is a link that might be useful: VDOF

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