Native to eastern North America and a long standing plantation species in Holland, Belgium and northern France.
Red oak is categorised as a secondary tree species. These are species that have been planted on a much smaller scale than the principal species but are reasonably well understood and have demonstrated their suitability for forestry in terms of stem form, growth rate and hardiness under current conditions and so have potential for wider use in future.
Very few provenance trials in Britain and few forest plots; seed should be sourced either from southern Canada or from good stands in north western Europe.
A shade intolerant species which is fully cold hardy in Britain and is widely planted as a specimen tree for its autumn foliage colour. Best suited to moderately dry to moist soils of poor to medium nutrient status, and outgrows native oaks on acid sandy loams. The species is windfirm and moderately tolerant of exposure and of drought.
Pests and pathogens
Records suggest red oak is susceptible to Phytophthora root rot. Armillaria root rot (honey fungus) may also kill it, especially if weakened by drought or other causes.
This is a species which could find an increased role on drier soils in southern and eastern Britain as result of climate warming.