Quercus ellipsoidalis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: northern pin oak 
Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Native Range: Northeastern United States
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought


Easily grown in average, acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers consistent moisture throughout the growing season, but tolerates dry soils.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Quercus ellipsoidalis, commonly called northern pin oak, hill’s oak or jack oak, is a medium-sized deciduous oak of the red oak group that typically grows 50-70’ tall with a cylindrical shape and rounded crown. Upper branches are ascending, but lower branches descend toward the ground. In the wild, the lower branches are often shaded by other trees, with some branches eventually dying and breaking off leaving persistent pin-like stubs, hence the pin oak part of the common name. This tree is primarily native to dry sandy sites including dry upland woods from northern Missouri to northwestern Ohio north into southern Canada (Manitoba and Ontario). Elliptic dark green leaves (3-7” long) have 5-9 deeply incised, bristle-tipped lobes. Leaves turn a relatively non-showy russet red in fall. Insignificant monoecious yellowish-green flowers in separate male and female catkins appear in spring as the leaves emerge. Fruits are elliptic acorns (to 3/4” long), with saucer-shaped acorn cups that cover 1/3 to 1/ 2 of the acorn. Acorns mature at the end of two seasons. Acorns are an important food source for wildlife (e.g., deer, bears, squirrels, small rodents and some birds). Smooth gray-black to dark brown bark usually develops ridging with age. Trunks mature over time to a diameter to 3’. Northern pin oak is similar in appearance to pin oak (Quercus palustris). Pin oak is primarily a lowland tree that is native to areas south of the more upland northern pin oak. One distinguishing difference is that the acorns of northern pin oak are narrower and longer than those of pin oak.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees.

Specific epithet is in reference to ellipsoidal acorns.


Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) is common in alkaline soils and can severely damage this tree. Northern pin oak is otherwise infrequently attacked by the common diseases of oaks which include oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils.


A medium shade tree for lawns, streets or parks.