|Tree in autumn|
|Subgenus:||Quercus subg. Quercus|
|Section:||Quercus sect. Lobatae|
Quercus coccinea, the scarlet oak, is an oak in the red oak section Quercus sect. Lobatae. The scarlet oak can be mistaken for the pin oak, the black oak, or occasionally the red oak. On scarlet oak the sinuses between lobes are "C"-shaped in comparison to pin oak (Q. palustris), which has "U"-shaped sinuses and the acorns are half covered by a deep cap.
Scarlet oak is mainly native to the central and eastern United States, from southern Maine west to Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri, and south as far as Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia. It occurs on dry, sandy, usually acidic soils. It is often an important canopy species in an oak-heath forest.
The leaves are glossy green, 7-17 cm (2.8-6.8 inches) long and 8-13 cm (3.2-5.2 inches) broad, lobed, with seven lobes, and deep sinuses between the lobes. Each lobe has 3-7 bristle-tipped teeth. The leaf is hairless (unlike the related pin oak, which has tufts of pale orange-brown down where the lobe veins join the central vein). The common English name is derived from the autumn coloration of the foliage, which generally becomes bright scarlet; in contrast, pin oak foliage generally turns bronze in autumn.
Foliage and male flower in May, Exbury, UK
Scarlet oak is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree, popular for its bright red fall color, although the tree is less commonly seen in cultivation than Q. rubra (the northern red oak) and Q. palustris (pin oak). The cultivar 'Splendens' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The wood is generally marketed as red oak, but is of inferior quality, being somewhat weaker and not forming as large a tree.