Pennsylvania is home to different types of oak trees, both cultivated and wild. Although Pennsylvania forests are greatly reduced from the time when when European settlers arrived in America, some old growth remains in the state. In many of these areas, oak trees make up a sizable portion of the state's original virgin forest.
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The white oak is a widespread forest tree in Pennsylvania and can reach 80 to 1,000 feet high. The tree's acorns were made into a flour by Native Americans and are an important food source for wildlife. The 6- to 9-inch-long leaves are a glossy green on top and pale green underneath. Historically, the tree's lumber was important in making whiskey barrels and in ship building.
Northern Red Oak
The northern red oak often is planted as a shade tree in parks, lawns and campuses. It is a fast-growing tree that tolerates city conditions, such as pollution and acidic soil. The tree is so hardy it has been used to help rehabilitate despoiled sites, including abandoned coal mines. Northern red oak lumber is important in furniture making, paneling and flooring in addition to its use for railroad ties. Its leaves and acorns attract many types of wildlife such as deer, rabbits and birds.
Pin oaks in Pennsylvania, commonly found in wet areas in the wild, are often grown as a street tree in due their pleasing appearance and ability to tolerate the reduced oxygen levels of urban soils. The wood of the pin oak is not particularly valuable, since it tends to split and warp. The tree reaches a height of about 60 feet and has 4- to 6-inch-long leaves with pointed lobes. The light brown acorns are approximalety 1/2 inch in diameter and ripen over two growing seasons.
The black oak inhabits dry, elevated sites in Pennsylvania and can grow up to 75 feet high. The lumber is used in construction and furniture making. The bark is dark brown and smooth as the tree matures but turns black and furrowed in older trees. The acorn is 1/2 to 1 inch long, with the acorn cup covering about half of the nut. The leaves are 4 to 8 inches long and 3 to 5 inches wide.