The red oak tree comes in several different species. Each species varies according to its native habitat and its description. The Northern red oak, Texas red oak, Southern red oak, and Mexican red oak are among the most popular in this family. The Northern red oak, as the name implies, is commonly found in Eastern North America, while the Texas and Southern red oaks are found across the south. The Mexican red oak is one of the most popular trees in Mexico.
The scientific name of the Northern red oak tree is Quercus rubra. As previously mentioned it is common in the northeastern portion of the United States, but can be found as far south as Georgia. It is also native to the southeastern providences of Canada – and as far east as Nova Scotia. It is a deciduous tree that can grow from 50 to 140 feet (15.2 - 42.7 m) in height with a trunk that can reach three (.9 m) to six feet (1.8 m) and has a spread of 50 to 75 feet (15.2 – 22.9 m). If it is growing in the wild, it will be on larger side of the spectrum.
The Northern red oak tree grows fast and will survive in a variety of soil conditions; however, it prefers to be near stream or river beds. It is a low maintenance tree and can live up to 500 years in the best conditions. The tell-tale sign that a tree is a Northern red oak tree is through a close inspection of its bark. The bark on the entire trunk has ridges with stripes that appear nearly shiny down the center.
The leaves of the Northern red oak tree are dark green in color with a gray tinge underneath. Each leaf has seven to 11 tips that are pointed sharply and turn reddish-brown during the fall months. Although acorns may not appear in abundance until the tree is nearly 40, the tree will shed its share of them in the autumn. The acorns are usually about 1 inch (2.54 cm) long and round in shape with a flat cap.
The Texas red oak, also known as the Quercus buckleyi or the Spanish Oak is loved for its tolerance to drought and heat. Smaller than the Northern red oak, it will usually grow to 30 or 40 feet (9.1 – 12.2 m) high with an equal span for its width. The bark is tinged red and appears to have scales, similar to a lizard. The dark green leaves of the Texas red oak are about three inches (7.6 cm) wide with five to seven points. The acorns have dark stripes and are about an inch (2.54 cm) in length.
The Southern red oak, also called the Quercus falcate, will grow to be about 80 feet (24.4 m) tall. The bark does not have the deep ridges like the Northern red oak and is usually gray in color. Each leaf is shaped like a pear and has sharp points, like the other red oaks. The acorns on the Southern red oak are small, only ½ inch (1.2 cm) long and much thinner than the others. The wood is often used for lumber because it is very strong.
The Mexican red oak or Quercus canbyi can reach heights up to 60 feet (18.3 m). The foliage is described as tardily deciduous; in fact, some have referred to it as evergreen because it holds its leaves nearly the entire year. Any new growth is red in color and it turns a rich red in the fall months. The leaves are finer in texture and have some toothing or points. It is also a hardy species of tree.