21 Bur Oak
Image of the Tree You are Viewing

21 QR Bur Oak 5-17-24
Basic Information about this tree
  • Scientific Name: Quercus macrocarpa – literal translation = white oak genus, large-fruit species

    Common Name: Bur (or ‘burr”) oak , so-called because the acorn caps, with their many little curved protrusions, resemble burrs.

    Deciduous – drops its leaves in Fall – Late Winter

    Sunlight / Moisture Soil Preferences Bur oak favors rich bottomland alluvial soils, but can grow well on other marginal sites such as rocky hillsides, limestone soils, dry clays, given full sun conditions. (reference USDA https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/plantmaterials/mtpmctn11275.pdf)

    Flowering type:  Bur oaks are monoecious, with male (“catkins”)and female flowers occurring separately but on the same individual tree.

    Pollination strategy: Wind


    Age Estimate / Health50 years, healthy

    Longevity: 200-400 years

    Mature Size: 80 ft tall by 60-100 ft under ideal conditions

    GPS Coordinates:  45.00311N  92.90340W

Mature Tree in Winter/ Summer

Leaves in Summer / Fall


Flowers - Female & Male (monoecious)


Images of Acorns, unripe / Ripe


Bark of Mature Tree / root system sketch

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Growth habit of roots: At the end of the first growing season, bur oak may be only a foot tall, but the taproot may reach more than 4 feet into the ground and the lateral roots may spread more than 2 feet to either side. It has perhaps the deepest, most extensive root system of any tree in Minnesota. Reference https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/issues/2021/sep-oct/profile.html#:~:text=At%20the%20end%20of%20the,of%20any%20tree%20in%20Minnesota.

Uses in Modern and Traditional Eras

Value for Wildlife: One of the best trees for wildlife, acorns add to the forest floor mast layer which feeds many birds and mammals including wild turkey and squirrels, good nesting sites in the branches.

Utility for Humans: Long-lasting sturdy tree, good shade provider. The wood of the bur oak is strong and useful for carpentry and construction as well as being prized for firewood due to clean-burning characteristics. 

Traditional uses in Native American Tree Medicine (historical):

Information provided by Paul Red Elk, Lakota Medicine Man:

Bur oak has a long history with the woodland American Indians Using small
Bur Oak twigs and young tree buds steeped into a tea it would relieve poor
digestion. It has been used to treat ulcers internally and externally.
Medicine people would harvest the inner bark. They would dry it for several
months. It was cut into smaller pieces using a motor and pedestal grind it
into a powder. Topically it would be applied externally to soothe skin ulcers.
Bur Oak has been used in the treatment of cholera and gonorrhea. Tea
wash have been used as douches to treat vaginal infections
There is a very small number of tannins remaining. The healers would
make a salve out of the inner bark gnarly branches from small branches.
twigs, and small leaf buds they would simmer for hours by adding bear or
sturgeon fat they made an arthritis salve. It nicks name is the old man and
lady tree, the branches are very gnarly in appearance like hand
Using the same method by adding acorn caps. This would work as a heart
tonic. Bark tea is used as a gargle to relieve a sore throat. Skin problems
such as rashes, irritation and swelling may be relieved with the application
of poultices or compresses made from the root bark or leaves. Oak has
been used in the treatment of cholera and gonorrhea.
They can be softened by immersing them in boiling water or steaming until
limp. If boiling water is not available, the leaves may be softened by
chewing on them until soft try not to crushing them too much. Apply the

leaves topically to the affected area as an antiseptic, soothing poultice to
reduce swelling, skin irritation or bleeding.

The tannin rich water has antiseptic and anti-viral properties. It may be
used as a wash to relieve irritations from rashes, minor burns, and poison
ivy. Fresh leaves may be gathered for first aid as needed. The inner bark is
the most useful medicinal part of the oak. It is bitter and astringent in taste.
The inner bark is best gathered in spring from roots protruding through the
ground. Dry it and store the bark in a cool dark place. Healers collect young
bur oak leaves and small tree for severe headaches, or headaches that feel
that your head has gnawing pain and eyes pain



Links & References

Doug Tallamy’s newest book The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees https://a.co/d/9r9cQJ7

Bur Oaks have been planted as a favored species in the “Restoration of Sunfish Lake Park” project. https://sminc-lake-elmo.org/adopt-a-tree/

place for notes

21 Red Oak
Image of the Tree You are Viewing

21 Red oak QR
Basic Information about this tree

Scientific Name, Family: Quercus Rubra

Common Names:Northern Red Oak, Red Oak

Native: Native to Minnesota


Image of the tree you are viewing: GPS Coordinates 45.00315 N  92.90342W

Condition and age guess of the tree you are viewingGood and ~50 years old.

Branch Structure: The red oak is one of the faster growing oaks. They grow tall and straight with a clear trunk and narrow crown.

Typical height and width at maturity: 50-75 ft tall by 40-65 ft wide

Typical longevity: 300 to 500 years.

Soil, water, sunlight preferences:  Prefers to be grown in acidic, moist, well-drained soils. It does best in sandy, loam soils. Red oak will tolerate alkaline, dry, and clay soils. Grows best in areas of full sun, but moderate shade is tolerated.

Leaf Details: Leaves are simple and grow alternately on the stem often 5″ to 9″ in length. They are divided into seven to nine lobes, each extending halfway to the midrib. Each lobe is somewhat coarsely toothed and bristle tipped. They are dull green above and paler green below, often turning a brilliant red in fall.

Flowering and Pollination Mechanism: Monoecious, wind-pollinated, and self-incompatible, meaning that individual flowers can be either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant. Pollination occurs in the first growing season, but fertilization and acorn maturation occur during the second growing season.

Root Structure: Usually has a deep, spreading root system. When it is on deep soils it develops a taproot.

Mature Tree in Winter/ Summer

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21 Red oak summer tree

Leaves in Summer / Fall

21 Red oak summer leaf
21 Red oak fall leaves

Flowers - Female & Male -separate Trees

21 Red oak female buds
21 Red oak male catkins

Acorns unripe / Ripe

21 Red oak acorns green
21 Red oak acorns ripe

Bark of Mature Tree / root system sketch

21 Red oak bark
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Uses in Traditional and Modern Eras

Value for wildlife: Acorns are an important winter food source for squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, and several songbirds.

Utility for Humans: The red oak makes a fantastic shade tree that is well suited for lawns, parks, and natural areas. The wood is excellent. Northern red oak is an important source of hardwood lumber. The wood is close-grained, heavy, and hard; it machines well and accepts a variety of finishes. It is used for furniture, veneer, interior finishing, cabinets, paneling, and flooring as well as for agricultural implements, posts, and railway ties. 

Traditional uses in Native American Tree Medicine (historical):

Homeowner’s Corner:

Generally, red oak is a long-lived and durable tree. However, this tree is highly susceptible to oak wilt. 

Do not prune this species if the timing falls within oak wilt season (especially April-June). It is not recommended to plant this species in an area of high oak wilt concentration. Potential insect pests include carpenter worms, timber beetle, red oak borer, and chestnut borer. The most destructive is the gypsy moth that defoliates the trees. Nut weevils, filbert worms, and acorn moths cause damage to the acorns. 

Links & References

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