Oak Trees Are Majestic and Live Longer Than Humans Do
Quercus alba, or the White oak tree, is a lowland tree that's tolerant to most climates in its natural habitat, which includes the eastern and central United States, and parts of southeastern Canada. They reach a moderate height of 65-85 feet upon maturity, which takes about 20 years for this species of tree to reach, though it can take 50 years for them to produce substantial amounts of acorns. They have a life expectancy of 150-300 years, with some as old as 400 years. They generally have light gray bark with light brown, water and rot-resistant wood, which is used in making wine barrels, floors and walls of homes, and is best-known as a preferred wood when building ships. Mission-style furniture builders also love this particular tree.
Quercus palustris, the Pin oak tree, grows mostly in the United States, though has in recent decades been introduced to the eastern states of Australia and also to Argentina where it thrives. Their mature height ranges between 60-70 feet and will grow quickly in its first 20 years. Its lifespan is relatively short compared to other oaks with an average of 120 years and prefers lowland acidic soils. Its wood is often sold as red oak, but has many more knots than real red oak trees, meaning it has more inferior quality. This tree's primary use is in landscaping due to both its rapid maturity, and the ease in which these trees are transplanted.
Quercus nigra, the Water oak tree, grows in the southeastern United States, and like most other oaks is a lowland tree that lives predominantly in swamps and bottomlands, though this one can become at altitudes of 1500 feet. Their mature height can reach up to 100 feet tall with trunks that can reach 3 feet in diameter. They reach full maturity in just 15-20 years, but they also have a short life expectancy of only 80 years. They are also considered highly disease-prone and are not recommended for landscape purposes. Their acorns are a significant food source to many animals in their growing region, from squirrels to raccoons, turkeys, and deer. Their most substantial uses are for firewood and timber and are usually sold as a mix with red oak wood.
Quercus prinus, or the Chestnut oak tree, grows throughout the Appalachian region with some in the Ohio Valley and southern Ontario and is considered a ridge-top tree. They can reach an average mature height of 60-70 feet, and can sometimes grow as tall as 140 feet. They also have an average lifespan of 100-200 years. This tree's most important identity is its bark, colored dark gray-brown and the thickest bark found on an oak tree in eastern North America. Another telltale sign of these trees is that they often have multiple trunks due to earlier injuries to the first or even second trunk. They have a dark-brown, sturdy, dense, close-grained wood that's predominantly used as firewood, though it can also be used to make wooden fences and railroad ties.