Red oak is the most plentiful species of oak in the United States, and it is especially plentiful in the eastern half of the country. But its range extends far beyond U.S. borders and can be found as far away as Iran, where it is called Persian oak. The principal species of red oak are Quercus rubra and Quercus falcata, but Quercus velutina, known as black oak, and Quercus shumardii, known as Shumard oak, are among the related species.
Trees of North America and Europe describes red oak as the "best growing oak introduced from North America to Europe; young trees may grow at the rate of 8 inches per year." In the United States, red oaks in the grow even faster. According to Know Your Woods, by Albert Constantine Jr., young red oaks can add 2 inches in diameter and 12 inches in height per year.
North and South
Werner Lorenz, owner and president of Indiana Veneers Corp. in Indianapolis, IN, says that northern red oak's slow growth makes it superior to southern red oak. "It is the slower growth dictated by climate that gives wider growth rings as well as a finer-grained wood," Lorenz says.
Red and White
In the United States, red oak is probably third most popular of all species behind cherry and maple, according to Lorenz. "Supplies of red oak are abundant. It remains very popular for kitchen cabinetry and furniture, especially for Mission and Arts and Craft style furniture," Lorenz says.
Properties and Uses
"[Red oak] was introduced into France and England during the early part of the 18th Century and today there are many fine buildings of this oak in France, Belgium and Germany," according to Know Your Woods.
In "Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material," from the USDA's Forest Products Laboratory, red oak's heartwood is described as brown with a tinge of red. Its sapwood is nearly white and usually 1 to 2 inches thick. "Sawed lumber of red oak cannot be separated by species on the basis of the characteristics of the wood alone. Red oak lumber can be separated from white oak by the number of pores in summerwood and because, as a rule, it lacks the membranous growth known as tyloses in the pores."
Tropical Red Oak Species
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