White Oak versus Red Oak

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 10-12-2011 05:09 PM 9028 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 4089 days

10-12-2011 05:09 PM

I am aware of an oak tree that the owner wants removed.

Does anyone know how, based on the appearance of the tree, one can tell if it is white oak or red oak?

I’ve done a little web searching but, so far, I have found no help.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

16 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 10-12-2011 05:12 PM

The points of the leaves are more rounded on white oak vs the pointy leaves of the red oak.

View Viktor's profile


472 posts in 4433 days

#2 posted 10-12-2011 05:52 PM

Red oak

White oak

The shapes vary a lot, but it is what Shane said.

View Bill Burr's profile

Bill Burr

12 posts in 3447 days

#3 posted 10-12-2011 06:44 PM

A white man used a round bullet. A red man used a pointed spear. Pointed lobes = red oak lumber. Round lobes = white oak lumber. Just to confuse you there is a white oak tree. Also a red oak tree. There is even a black oak, it prodeces red oak lumber.

-- Just another beautiful day in paradise.

View andysden's profile


45 posts in 3433 days

#4 posted 10-12-2011 09:54 PM

red oak bark is usually smoth and white is rougher Andysden

View wchips's profile


314 posts in 4103 days

#5 posted 10-13-2011 02:21 AM

I learned something today. I never knew the difference between red osk and white oak leaves.

-- wchips

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3491 days

#6 posted 10-13-2011 02:44 AM

Most all the white oaks have an ash gray, very light colored, almost white, scaly bark. You can “pick” the scales off with your hand. There are a number of “white oaks”. There is white oak, post oak, overcup oak, chinkapin oak, swamp chestnut oak, chestnut oak, burr oak, etc.

Red oaks do not have an almost white, ash gray, scaly bark that you can “pick off” with your hands. Usually, red oak bark is dark gray or black and ridged and it may be streaked with silver, but it is not ash gray and scaly. Even the red oaks that have smooth lighter colored bark are not scaly. There are many red oaks in the Red Oak Group. Some common ones are water oak, willow oak, laurel oak, southern red oak, northern red oak, shumard oak, cherrybark oak, black oak, scarlet oak, blackjack oak, etc.

The red oaks have leaves with lobes that are pointed and the leaf lobes have little spines. The white oaks generally have leaves that have rounded lobes, and leaves in the White Oak Group do not have spines.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4089 days

#7 posted 10-13-2011 05:02 AM

Thanks everyone. I really learned some valuable information today. I now know that the tree in question is a red oak. The leaves are definitely red oak leaves.

Thanks again.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3851 days

#8 posted 10-13-2011 03:53 PM

Wow, great stuff folks!

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3491 days

#9 posted 10-14-2011 04:41 AM

Red oak is good! I saw a bunch of it and it is very popular. I have red oak wainscott in my home and it is beautiful.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3998 days

#10 posted 10-14-2011 06:12 AM

I always just go to my local nursery and bring a leaf and he always identifies the tree for me. i’ve tried using the net, but there is too many varities that are real close in type. better to ask the professional

View ksSlim's profile


1304 posts in 3905 days

#11 posted 10-14-2011 06:47 AM

Here’s a link to tree identification
Put together by the Arbor Day folks. Good place for aspiring foresters to start.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View knotscott's profile


8415 posts in 4390 days

#12 posted 10-14-2011 12:32 PM

Good to know! Thanks!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Craig Havran's profile

Craig Havran

346 posts in 3626 days

#13 posted 10-14-2011 10:06 PM

leaves with three, leave them be… i really can’t tell the difference in red or white oak. i think they taste the same.

-- "There's plenty of time to read the instruction manual when you're laying in the hospital bed". - Dad

View willie's profile


534 posts in 3469 days

#14 posted 10-16-2011 05:22 AM

If you cut a piece of red oak and a piece of white oak 3/4” to 1” long, you can blow air through the red oak but not the white oak, by mouth.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View Kent's profile


49 posts in 4850 days

#15 posted 10-16-2011 05:23 AM

check out

They will soon have an app for the droid, now it is available only for the apple ipad / ipod – but you take a picture of the leave with your phone and with the help of millions of people around the world, two major universities and the smithsonian institute, we will all be able to identify trees accurately in seconds. I thought it was a great idea.


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