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Differences Between Black Oak and Red Oak

Black Oak vs Red Oak

Mother Earth is really a great beauty. From plants to animals, it never ceases to amaze us. Among the wonderful trees that always stun us with their beauty is the oak tree. In the United States, you can see several oak trees. Oak trees are members of the beech family. North America is also the heart of several species of oak trees like the Black Oak and the Red Oak. Though they are oak trees, they have differences among each other when it comes to the size and shape of their leaves. To tell them apart, you need to know the key features of the Black Oak and the Red Oak.

The Black Oak is a medium to large tree which amazingly grows up to 80 feet in height. The diameter of its trunk is generally two and a half feet wide. Its green leaves consist of 7 to 9 lobes or the so-called “fingers” of the leaves. These lobes have pointy bristles on each end. Also, the leaves grow up to 4 to 10 inches long. If you would look closely at the Black Oak’s leaves, one part of them is shiny while the one below is pale. Sometimes, little, brown hairs grow underneath the green leaves. During the fall season, the green leaves become red.

The bark of the Black Oak has a smooth texture and is colored gray in its younger years. When it becomes an older tree, it becomes black and develops furrows in it. The inner part of the bark has an orange-yellow color. The Black Oak’s fruit is an acorn, and its size is about ¾ inches long. The acorn of the Black Oak generally takes two years to mature.

Like the Black Oak, the Red Oak also grows up to 80 feet in height. Its trunk diameter can grow up to 2 to 3 feet in diameter. It also has green leaves consisting of 7 to 11 lobes with pointy bristles on each end. During the fall season, its green leaves turn into dark red fading to brown. When the Red Oak is young, its bark is reddish brown. When it becomes mature, the bark becomes darker in color and develops furrows in it. Its fruit is also an acorn which is more oblong in shape.

During summer and spring, the Black Oak and the Red Oak are almost unidentifiable. But if you will look closely at their leaves, the Black Oak has fewer lobes. Both the leaves of these oak trees turn into shades of red during the fall season, but the leaves of the Red Oak may turn into yellow or brown. They also have different colors of bark. The Black Oak’s bark when young is grey in color while the Red Oak’s bark is reddish brown.


  1. The Black Oak and the Red Oak both belong to the beech family of trees. These oak trees are evenly distributed in parts of the United States and North America.
  2. Both the Black Oak and Red Oak grow up to 80 feet tall.
  3. The Black Oak has leaves with 7 to 9 lobes while the Red Oak has leaves with 7 to 11 lobes.
  4. The green leaves of the Black Oak turn red during the fall season so as the Red Oak. But the Red Oak’s leaves can also become yellow or brown during the fall season.
  5. The bark of the Black Oak when young is gray; when mature, it is black. The bark of the Red Oak when young is reddish brown; when mature, it is dark.
  6. Both Black Oaks and Red Oaks bear acorn fruits. The Red Oak’s acorns are more oblong in shape.

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  1. ‘the trees are unidentifiable’? I think the writer means indistinguishable….hard to tell apart…

    • The information under the heading of “differences” cites far more examples of similarities. More lobes for the Red Oak? How can you tell two leaves apart that have 7-9 lobes? There has got to be a better way to tell them apart. I heard on YouTube that one has a bowl cap for the acorn, and the other a flat top. Now that’s data that can be used.

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