Mystery Oak Trees

Mystery Oak Trees

There are three mature oaks from the Red Oak group growing on the parkway of Gertrude Street a couple of blocks from my house.  Tall and full-grown, they retained some of their leaves throughout the winter.  I could tell they weren’t Red Oak (Quercus rubra) or Black Oak (Q. velutina) and assumed they were Hill’s Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) or Scarlet Oak (Q. coccinea).


Quercus palustris

Upon closer inspection of the fallen leaves, it was apparent they were none of the above.

Remarkably, all three trees had differently shaped leaves.

pin oak

This  leaf is from the first tree and appears  to be a Pin Oak (Quercus palustris),  which usually does not thrive in our midwestern alkaline soils. This is, however, a mature street tree planted between the street and the sidewalk with no sign of iron chlorosis.


Then it gets more difficult.

oak tree leaves middle

These are the leaves from the middle tree.  The horizontal bottom lobes are unique and i can’t find anything similar to them.  The leaves I picked up were from 5 1/2-6 1/2 inches long including the stem.

oak leaves north tree

And these are the leaves of the third tree, smaller then the other two.

I looked up in the internet all the hybrids of red oak trees mentioned in Swink & Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, but couldn’t find a match.

These  are superior trees; there are no other mature oaks in my  neighborhood, except for the White Oaks in the small park.

Have any of you seen any oak trees that resemble these?  If so, please share.

4 Responses to Mystery Oak Trees

  1. Carol Rice February 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    Pat – there is an app called Leafsnap. Presumably you can upload a photo to Leafshap and get ID.


  2. Jason February 25, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    Very interesting. Whatever the species, it’s a blessing to have any mature oak in the area. For some reason there are very few around here.

    • Jason February 25, 2017 at 11:57 am #

      There are plenty of mature trees, but they Oaks are rare. Lots of Maples and others.

  3. Patrick June 7, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    Is the third possibly a Nutall Oak? the leaves are somewhat similar…

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