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Publication #ENH-712

Quercus nuttallii: Nuttall Oak1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


This native North American deciduous tree is capable of reaching 100 to 120 feet in height but is more often seen at 60 to 80 feet. The dull, dark green, lobed leaves are 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 5 inches wide. The small, reddish-brown acorns are 0.75 to 1.25 inches long. The bark is dark, grey/brown, and divided into broad, flat plates.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Quercus nuttallii: nuttall oak


Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Quercus nuttallii
Pronunciation: KWERK-us nuh-TALL-ee-eye
Common name(s): Nuttall oak
Family: Fagaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 6B through 8B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: highway median; street without sidewalk; specimen; shade; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; tree lawn > 6 ft wide
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 60 to 80 feet
Spread: 35 to 50 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: round
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: lobed, parted
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: red
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: brown
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval, round
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch, 1 to 3 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: attracts squirrels/mammals; not showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green, brown
Current year twig thickness: thin, medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; extended flooding; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: unknown

Use and Management

Nuttall oak should be grown in full sun on any soil and is very tolerant of poorly-drained, wet sites. This should make it well suited for the soil conditions found at many urban sites. If landscape nurseries grew this tree more often, it would be specified for poorly-drained urban and suburban landscape sites.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases of major concern.



This document is ENH-712, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.