The state of Illinois is home to more than four million acres of forested land, making it home to a lot of species of trees. Although there are big cities scattered throughout the state, there are also many numerous rural areas as well, which gives it a lot of chances to show off all of the beautiful trees there.
With a whopping 19 types of oak trees found in the state of Illinois, there is likely to be a “majestic oak” somewhere nearby regardless of where you visit. There’s a reason why oak trees are considered majestic. They grow tall and often very wide, and with various types of leaves found that makes each oak tree unique, they are quite impressive when found lining public streets or planted in public areas such as parks and gardens.
Oak trees live roughly 200 to 300 years and have nuts called acorns, which vary in size and taste depending on the type of tree they are attached to. Both animals and humans have enjoyed these acorns through the centuries, and they are one of the things that make the tree so special and unique. Below is information about each type of oak tree found in the state of Illinois.
- 1. Black Oak (quercus velutina)
- 2. Blackjack Oak (quercus marilandica)
- 3. Bur Oak (quercus macrocarpa)
- 4. Cherrybark Oak (quercus pagoda)
- 5. Chinkapin Oak (quercus muehlenbergii)
- 6. Dwarf Chinkapin Oak (quercus prinoides)
- 7. Hartwiss Oak (quercus hartwissiana)
- 8. Hill’s Oak (quercus ellipsoidalis)
- 9. Northern Red Oak (quercus rubra)
- 10. Nuttall Oak (quercus texana)
- 11. Overcup Oak (quercus lyrata)
- 12. Post Oak (quercus stellata)
- 13. Rock Chestnut Oak (quercus montana)
- 14. Scarlet Oak (quercus coccinea)
- 15. Shingle Oak (quercus imbricaria)
- 16. Southern Red Oak (quercus falcata)
- 17. Swamp White Oak (quercus bicolor)
- 18. White Oak (quercus alba)
- 19. Willow Oak (quercus phellos)
1. Black Oak (quercus velutina)
The black oak tree is also known as the eastern black oak and can get to 80 feet in height. The trunk is usually around 35 inches in diameter, and the leaves are very big – up to 8 inches in length. They are usually a beautiful shiny green on top and have a yellowish-brown color underneath. The acorn is especially large when compared to the nuts of other oak trees, and the tree itself has been known to hybridize with roughly a dozen other trees. The black oak prefers warm, humid climates and is found in elevations up to 3,900 feet.
2. Blackjack Oak (quercus marilandica)
The blackjack oak tree is considered a small type of oak because it normally only gets to roughly 50 feet high, sometimes less. You can grow a blackjack oak easily because it can handle a variety of soil types, even though some people don’t consider it an attractive tree due to its small size. The wood, however, is very tough and is frequently used in wood-burning stoves and BBQ grills. The blackjack oak can also grow in various elevations, including just above sea level to around 2,800 feet.
3. Bur Oak (quercus macrocarpa)
Bur oak trees can be called mossycup oaks, and they are large deciduous trees that can get up to 160 feet in height, making them a very impressive oak tree. Even the trunk is impressive, getting up to ten feet in width. Bur oaks are some of the slowest-growing oak trees and can live anywhere from 200 to 300 years, with some of them living up to 400 years. The acorns are very large and can be two inches long, making them very popular with wildlife of all kinds.
4. Cherrybark Oak (quercus pagoda)
Also called the Texas oak tree, this type of oak is part of the red oak group and is not only larger than a lot of other oaks, but better formed as well. It grows quickly and beautifully and can get as high as 130 feet tall. The wood of this tree is tough and hard, making it useful for a lot of different applications. The cherrybark oak acorns produce every year and abundantly every other year. The cherrybark oak tree also has beautiful flowers that bloom from February to May, depending on the latitude of the location.
5. Chinkapin Oak (quercus muehlenbergii)
Chinkapin oak trees are part of the white oak group. They have acorns that ripen in either September or October about a year after pollination, and they are easy to grow because they can accommodate numerous types of soil. With gray, flaky bark and very hard wood, the tree also has acorns with a sweet taste, making them popular with all types of wildlife as well as some humans! They even have flowers that bloom from April to either late May or early June.
6. Dwarf Chinkapin Oak (quercus prinoides)
True to its name, the dwarf chinkapin oak tree only grows to roughly 20 feet high at the most, and no bigger than 20 feet in diameter. The leaves are two to six inches long, and even the acorns are small, getting no bigger than one inch in length. Usually found in rough or rocky terrain, the tree’s acorns are sweet in taste and, therefore, popular with both wildlife and humans, but the wood has very little use since the tree is so small. The growth habit and habitat are both different from the standard chinkapin tree, so it isn’t just the size of this tree that is different from the original.
7. Hartwiss Oak (quercus hartwissiana)
This tree is actually native to southeastern Bulgaria, and it is a deciduous tree that can get up to 115 feet in height. The leaves can be up to 5.5 inches long and up to 3.5 inches wide. They are a dark-green color on top and a brownish color underneath. The acorns of the tree are roughly one inch long and the fruits of the tree mature in the very first year. Hartwiss oak trees are always found in forests that have many different types of trees there, and they prefer warm and humid climates.
8. Hill’s Oak (quercus ellipsoidalis)
Also called the northern pin oak, the Hill’s oak tree is a medium-sized deciduous tree that usually grows to about 65 feet in height. It has an open, rounded crown and glossy green leaves that get up to five inches long and four inches in width. One of this tree’s biggest attributes is the bright-red leaves that appear every fall, which is one of the many reasons it is used so frequently as an ornamental or decorative tree. The wood is used for fence posts, various construction projects, and even as fuel.
9. Northern Red Oak (quercus rubra)
The northern red oak, or red oak, is native to North America and found frequently in the southeastern and south-central parts of the country. Some people call it the champion oak, and it gets up to 90 feet in height and up to three feet in diameter. It has an interesting bark color that is reddish-gray or dark brown, and the leaves can get up to nine inches long and up to six inches wide. The acorn of this tree matures in 18 months and develops in pairs or as a single nut. They eventually mature into a beautiful shade of chestnut-brown.
10. Nuttall Oak (quercus texana)
Growing to around 80 feet in height, the nuttall oak tree grows quickly and can even be taller than 80 feet. The leaves are unique in that they turn a beautiful shade of red in the fall, and the tree itself does well in all types of soils, including wet soils. This is a stately looking tree with leaves that are similar to the pin oak and Georgia oak trees, and the bark is dark brown in color.
11. Overcup Oak (quercus lyrata)
Perfect for lowland areas, the overcup oak tree is a medium-sized tree that gets to roughly 65 feet high. The leaves are shaped like lyres and the nuts are very large. The leaves can also be quite large, getting up to six inches long and up to four inches in width. They have a beautiful dark-green color on top. These trees are found frequently in the south-central and eastern parts of the United States.
12. Post Oak (quercus stellata)
The acorns of the post oak mature during the very first summer after pollination, but are slightly small in size. The tree itself is part of the white oak group and usually grows only to around 50 feet in height. Also called the iron oak, the post oak has leaves that look a lot like a Maltese cross, and the tree is easy to grow because it grows well in numerous soil conditions, including poor soils.
13. Rock Chestnut Oak (quercus montana)
The rock chestnut oak tree can grow even in rocky soils, which is where it gets its name, and it can get from 60 to 72 feet in height. Its leaves are unique and very attractive, with a bright-green color and a size of roughly eight inches long and four inches wide. When it comes to their bark, it is the thickest of any of the oaks found in the eastern part of North America, and it is a grayish-brown in color.
14. Scarlet Oak (quercus coccinea)
The scarlet oak is native to the eastern and central parts of the United States and prefers dry, sandy, or slightly acidic soil conditions. It can get up to 100 feet high and is, therefore, considered by most to be a medium- to large-sized tree. Its large leaves can get up to seven inches long and up to five inches wide. The acorns are small and mature in about 18 months, and their color is usually pale brown.
15. Shingle Oak (quercus imbricaria)
The shingle oak is part of the red oak group and is a deciduous tree. It grows to roughly 65 feet high and can have a trunk as large as 40 inches in diameter. Its leaves are shaped like laurel leaves and get up to ten inches long and up to three inches wide. The acorns mature about 18 months after pollination and are eaten by squirrels and birds. The wood of the tree is a pale reddish-brown color and is used mostly for shingles, hence the name. It can also be used in some construction projects.
16. Southern Red Oak (quercus falcata)
This tree is also called the Spanish oak and can grow in a variety of soil conditions. It grows to around 100 feet in height and has beautiful orange-brown acorns that mature at the end of the second season. Native to the eastern and south-central parts of the United States, one southern red oak tree was found in 2017 that had a spread of more than 100 feet, making it a quite impressive tree indeed.
17. Swamp White Oak (quercus bicolor)
The swamp white oak tree is medium in size and grows 60 to 80 feet high. Its leaves can get up to seven inches long and up to four inches wide, and they have from five to seven lobes on each side. In the fall, the leaves turn either red, brown, or a yellowish-brown color. It only takes about six months after pollination for the acorns to mature, and they get up to roughly one inch in length. The biggest swamp white oak tree recorded lived a total of 285 years and grew to be 95 feet tall. The wood of the tree is used in various construction projects and even in landscaping.
18. White Oak (quercus alba)
In the year 2016, a white oak tree was found in New Jersey and is recorded to have been 600 years old. This, of course, is not the average, but the white oak can live for up to 300 years. Instead of white, this tree actually has bark that is light gray in color and is quite attractive. The wood of the white oak tree is used to make everything from musical instruments to whiskey barrels, and they are such attractive trees that they are frequently used as ornamental or decorative trees.
19. Willow Oak (quercus phellos)
Willow oaks are part of the red oak group and grow from 65 to 100 feet in height. The trunk is also large and can be as much as five feet in diameter. The leaves are a beautiful shade of green and get up to four inches long and one inch wide. They are a dark green on top and a lighter shade of green on the bottom. The tree’s wood grows quickly and is very hard; therefore, it is used frequently in various landscaping projects, particularly in public areas such as shopping malls and others.