16 Types of Oak Trees in Texas (White & Red Varieties)

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There are tons of different types of Oak trees in Texas, considering the state experiences so many different climates, with wide ranges of temperatures and types of soil.

Texas ranges from USDA hardiness zones 6b to 10a, which is a range wide enough to host many cold hardy trees as well as desert-dwelling ones.

Most of the Oak trees that grow in Texas fall into one of two categories: either a very hardy Oak that’s common all over the U.S. and grows in northern TX, or a warm climate Oak that’s native to northern Mexico and can be found in southern TX.

Although, there’s also a handful of Oak trees that are native to Texas exclusively and can only be found in certain protected areas!

This article has a range of Oak trees that grow in Texas, covering trees from every region, in many different forms and with many different uses.

16 Varieties of Oak Trees That You’ll Find in Texas

1. Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii)

Swamp chestnut oak
Image by Jaknouse via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

As the name suggests, this tree is commonly found in the swampy and moist soils of east TX. It grows well in the acidic and very fertile soils along river beds or streams and can even tolerate moderate flooding.

Swamp Chestnut Oaks often grow on their own or spotted throughout forests, but rarely ever grow in large groups. These trees are Texas natives and are firewise, meaning they’re highly fire resistant.

Swamp Chestnut Oaks have light gray to white bark with a full crown of green leaves, which turn bright red in the fall. This Oak looks very similar to White Oak trees, but the two can be distinguished by the acorn size, as Swamp Chestnut Oaks produce much larger acorns.

This tree’s acorns are a favorite snack for cows, which is why it’s sometimes called Cow Oak. Its other common name, Basket Oak, is because its wood is great for baskets.

  • Other Common Names: Cow Oak, Basket Oak
  • Growing Zones: 5-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 80-100 ft tall by 60 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

2. Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)

Blackjack Oak
Image by Kenraiz via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)

This Oak is also native to eastern TX and spans westward into central TX, tolerating a range of soil compositions and popping up throughout forests. However, the Blackjack Oak normally grows in loose, gravel or sandy soils.

There are also several sub-species of Quercus marilandica that have been found only in Texas, as they only grow on the limestone soil in central TX.

Blackjack Oaks have dark green leaves and gray-brown bark that cracks into a loose checkerboard pattern. This is one of the few Oak trees that has an impressive show as a flowering tree, with bright orange-red flowers in spring. This is followed by colorful fall foliage.

Blackjack Oak wood is very strong and heavy, so it can be used for many purposes. It’s often used locally for fence posts or other large posts, but can also be used as firewood and burn for a long time.

  • Other Common Names: Cow Oak, Basket Oak
  • Growing Zones: 5-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall by 30 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in spring

Available at: Nature Hills

3. Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi)

Lacey Oak
Image by Shrie Bradford Spangler via Flickr

The Lacey Oak or Blue Oak is an Oak variety that is particular to Texas and only grows around the Edwards Plateau area, in the southwestern part of the state, bordering Big Bend Park.

It grows especially well on limestone soils and is typically found in Terrell or Brewster county.

This tree is not cold hardy and can only grow in the southern region of the U.S., although its hardiness levels aren’t very well recorded since it mostly only grows in Texas.

Lacey Oak is a deciduous tree that has bluish-green leaves- a very similar color to the leaves of juniper trees but the two have very distinct leaf shapes and tree structures.

The wood of Lacey Oaks is usually used for fence posts or as firewood, however it’s also increasingly grown in nurseries for landscaping.

  • Other Common Names: Blue Oak, Canyon Oak
  • Growing Zones: 7-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall by 20-30 ft wide

4. Bluejack Oak (Quercus incana)

Bluejack oak
Image by Bruce Kirchoff via Flickr

The Bluejack Oak grows in eastern TX and as far west as the Brazos river, sometimes found growing in central TX as well.

This Oak can typically be found on hills with dry and sandy soils, and often in forests amongst Longleaf Pines, Black Hickory, and Flowering Dogwood.

A full grown Bluejack Oak has a large but irregular crown, with branches growing up and erratically out. Its leaves are green with a strong blue-gray tint and a light gray underside.

In the spring, Bluejack Oak blooms with light red flowers that cover its crown. It has a dark gray, almost black, bark that cracks into a jagged checkerboard pattern.

Interestingly, the wood on the inside of the tree has a reddish hint to it. The wood can be used for a variety of things, but is often just used a firewood when cut.

  • Other Common Names: Sandjack Oak
  • Growing Zones: 5-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 25-35 ft tall by 10 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in spring

5. Texas Oak (Quercus buckleyi)

Texas oak
Image by Andrey iZharkikh via Flickr

A Texas native and found growing in the heart of Texas, this tree is aptly named the Texas Oak. It grows very well on the limestone soils in central TX, extending out westward just to Edward’s Plateau.

Texas Oak typically grows on dry hills and ridges throughout central TX, but can also be found growing in the more moist and fertile soils of eastern central TX. It’s also a fairly common landscaping tree.

Texas Oak is also fire resistant and has dark brown bark with dark green leaves. In the spring, it blooms with red female flowers, which match its bright red leaves that come in the fall.

Unfortunately, Texas Oak is often associated with oak wilt disease, although it’s not the only variety that is susceptible. This tree has thick bark that can harbor disease or insects, which are transferred to other trees when the wood is chopped and transported.

  • Other Common Names: Buckley Oak, Texas Red Oak, Spanish Oak
  • Growing Zones:
  • Average Size at Maturity: 35-70 ft tall by 30 ft wide

6. Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Bur Oak
Image by Bruce Kirchoff via Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Bur Oak is typically found in central TX, having a preference for limestone soil yet adaptable to many different kinds and can grow all over the region. It will most likely grow along streams and river beds, but is also a common pick for landscaping.

Despite being very tall, Bu Oak has a thick and stout trunk that’s mostly covered by its branches. At the top of the tree, the branches grow up to form a thick crown, but lower down the heavy branches hang low.

Bur Oak has green leaves and yellow flowers, but no fall foliage. The acorn it produces is typically covered in a fringey moss-like grass, giving it the name Mossycup Oak. Bur Oak is considered a nut tree since its acorns are edible for humans, traditionally ground up and used as flour.

Bur wood is very heavy and strong, which gives it many uses, namely lumber and firewood.

  • Other Common Names: Mossycup Oak, Prairie Oak, Savannah Oak, Overcup Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 80-100 ft tall by 40 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda)

Cherrybark Oak
Image by Bruce Kirchoff via Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

This Oak is native to eastern TX and thrives in the fertile, moist soils of the southern swamps.

Cherrybark Oak has green leaves shaped like a pagoda, with branches that grow evenly up and out, forming a full crown. In the spring it blooms with long, yellow-green flowers and in the fall, its leaves turn a deep red color.

Younger trees will have smooth, dark gray or brown bark, but the older trees have deep cracks in the bark. The Cherrybark Oak is very similar to the Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata), except the leaves of that variety have a light gray underside.

Cherrybark Oak is a type of Red Oak and its wood is very high quality, with multiple uses. This is a very popular choice for timber, but also for furniture, lumber, or pulpwood.

  • Other Common Names: Swamp Red Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 80-100 ft tall by 60-80 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)

Chinkapin oak tree
Image by Kim Scarborough via Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Chinkapin is another native Texas oak tree and it grows all over the state. This tree is super common in central TX, but it also grows in the northeast, the west, and down south just to the Guadalupe river.

This tree mostly grows in limestone soils, but it can also be found growing along river beds, streams, and bluffs. Chinkapin Oak is also very popular for landscaping, since it grows in many areas and has a big crown that provides lots of shade.

This tree looks very similar to the Allegheny Chinquapin (Castanea pumila), a variety of the American chestnut tree, which is where it gets its other name, Chinquapin Oak.

This tree’s acorns are edible if roasted and are actually pretty commonly eaten. Chinkapin Oak’s wood is very strong and durable, making it great for barrels, furniture, fencing, and firewood.

  • Other Common Names: Chinquapin Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 ft tall by 50-60 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

9. Chisos Red Oak (Quercus gravesii)

Chisos Red Oak
Image by Homer Edward Price via Flickr

This tree is named after the Chisos mountain region in west TX, including the Glass and Davis mountains as well. In these areas, Chisos Red Oak trees can be found on north-facing slopes around 4,000 ft in elevation.

This tree can also be found in shady canyons at lower elevations near Val Verde county or along the Pecos river. The Chisos Red Oak grows the furthest west out of all the trees of the Shumard Oak group.

In western TX this tree is sometimes grown for landscaping, otherwise it’s used for firewood.

Chisos Red Oak is a deciduous, medium-sized tree that sometimes grows with multiple trunks (2-3). It has green leaves in summer but bright, golden yellow foliage in the fall.

  • Other Common Names: Graves Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall by 30 ft wide

10. Emory Oak (Quercus emoryi)

Emory oak
Image by Homer Edward Price via Flickr

Emory Oak almost exclusively grows in western TX, in the mountains above 4,000 ft in elevation but also in canyons in the same region.

Similar to the Chisos Red Oak, Emory Oak grows in the Davis, Chinati, and Chisos mountains.

Emory Oak is an evergreen tree native to Texas, with dark and rough bark. Its large branches hang down a bit, forming a loose crown of light green leaves.

Both Sandpaper Oak and Blue Oak trees look very similar to an Emory Oak, except these two varieties don’t grow at such high elevations.

This tree has a larger, oval-shaped acorn that’s very dark, almost black. The acorn is relatively very sweet and has traditionally been ground up to make a coarse flour.

  • Other Common Names: Blackjack Oak, Black Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall by 20-25 ft wide

11. Gray Oak (Quercus grisea)

Gray Oak
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

Gray Oak trees are native to northern Mexico and southwestern TX, although they can also be found in central TX. They usually grow on rough, sandy or gravel ground.

Sometimes a Gray Oak tree will have multiple trunks and resemble a large shrub more than a tree.

In addition, Mohr Oak (Quercus mohriana) is more of a shrub-like tree that will hybridize with Gray Oak trees when they grow near each other, producing varieties that have a shrub appearance.

Gray Oak trees have a dense crown of green, cordate leaves and are covered in long, dangling flowers in the spring.

The wood of these trees isn’t used for anything in particular, but locals will use it as needed- for fences or firewood, for example.

  • Other Common Names: Shin Oak, Scrub Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50 ft tall by 30-35 ft wide

12. Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

Live Oaks grow in the southern coastal plain of Texas and all along the southeast coast of the U.S. in the gulf states. In Texas, these trees grow in well-draining soils, south down to Hidalgo county and even as far west as the Balcones Escarpment.

These trees make a large statement with their huge form and twisting branches, often reaching out twice as wide as the tree is tall!

The branches are very heavy and weigh down the crown, with many drooping down low to the ground. The underside of the leaves are very light, almost white.

Clearly, the wood of this tree is very strong and can be used for a wide range of needs. However, Live Oak is also really popular for landscaping, since it’s so impressive and provides tons of shade.

It’s strange but useful to know that Live Oak bark is toxic to horses!

  • Other Common Names: Coastal Live Oak, American Live Oak, Virginia Live Oak, Encino
  • Growing Zones: 8-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall by 60-100 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

13. Mexican White Oak (Quercus polymorpha)

mexican white oak
Image by Kenraiz via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)

The Mexican White Oak is native to Texas, specifically to Val Verde county in the southwest part of the state, and throughout northern Mexico. Although, this tree actually wasn’t recognized as a native species until 1992, because it’s so popular for landscaping!

Mexican White Oak is really common in landscaping in western TX, however most nurseries sell it as Monterrey Oak. This is why the Mexican White Oak wasn’t acknowledged as a species separate from Monterrey Oak.

Despite being native to such a warm climate, these trees are fairly cold hardy and could be found growing in northwestern TX.

These trees have a gray bark and dark green leaves, with small green flowers in the spring.

  • Other Common Names: Netleaf White Oak, Monterrey Oak
  • Growing Zones: 6-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40 ft tall by 30-35 ft wide

14. Nuttall Oak (Quercus texana)

Nuttall Oak
Image by Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Nuttall Oak grows in southeast TX, but only sparingly as opposed to in large forests. It grows well in sites along river beds or streams, and at the edge of forests.

This fairly large tree has a long, vertical crown, with upward-growing branches at the top and the lower ones drooping down. Its leaves are dark green and deeply perforated, and the acorn it produces is greener than most varieties.

Nuttall Oak looks very similar to the Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), however Pin Oak isn’t native to Texas while Nuttall is.

Its wood is very strong and tough, so it’s used for various purposes as lumber, although the lumber is often sold as Red Oak lumber in Texas.

Interestingly, the botanical name for this tree was changed just a few years ago from ‘nuttallii’ to ‘texana’, while the species name was changed from “Texas Red Oak” to “Nuttall”- confusing enough?!

  • Other Common Names: Texas Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 70-80 ft tall by 50-55 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

15. Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata)

Overcup Oak
Image by Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

This Oak prefers the wet soil and bottomlands of eastern TX, often found growing in forests in the wetlands. This variety can grow as far west as the Navasota River valley, usually around the river banks and poorly drained areas.

Overcup Oak trees have an open, somewhat crooked, crown with large green, lobe shaped leaves. Then, its leaves turn a strong, deep red in the fall, nicely complementing its reddish bark.

The Bottomland Post Oak (Quercus similis) has many similar characteristics, but can be distinguished by the acorns. Overcup Oak’s unique acorns have a large shell that covers almost all of the nut.

Overcup Oak wood is very strong and durable, used for anything white oak wood is used for- including furniture, baskets, cabinets, and barrels.

  • Other Common Names: Swamp Post Oak, Compton Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 80-90 ft tall by 70-80 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

16. Water Oak (Quercus nigra)

Water Oak
Image by Bruce Kirchoff via Flickr

Water Oak trees grow all over Texas, doing very well in moist soil in the east and rich soil of central TX, out west to the Colorado river. Water Oaks typically grow along streams or creeks, really wherever there is dense and moist soil.

Water Oaks have long, oblong leaves that actually stay on the tree throughout the winter. It has scaly and light brown bark that becomes smoother over time whereas most trees’ bark becomes rougher with time.

Water Oak is often called Pin Oak because it looks very similar to the true Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) and it’s fairly common to use Pin Oak to describe any generic Oak tree.

Water Oaks have light colored sapwood that’s almost like White Oak. Its wood is mostly used as firewood, but can also be turned into pulpwood.

  • Other Common Names: Pin Oak
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 90-100 ft tall by 60-70 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills

Comparing Texas Oak Tree Varieties

VarietyDescriptionGrowing ZonesAverage Size at Maturity
Swamp Chestnut OakFirewise, with light gray to white bark. Produces large acorns and has bright red fall foliage.5-980-100 ft tall x 60 ft wide
Blackjack OakDark green leaves, gray-brown bark, bright orange-red spring flowers, and colorful fall foliage.5-940-60 ft tall x 30 ft wide
Lacey OakDeciduous with bluish-green leaves. Used for landscaping and firewood.7-940-50 ft tall x 20-30 ft wide
Bluejack OakIrregular crown, blue-gray leaves, red spring flowers. Wood used for firewood.5-925-35 ft tall x 10 ft wide
Texas OakKnown for its fire resistance, dark brown bark, dark green leaves, and red fall foliage. Associated with oak wilt disease.35-70 ft tall x 30 ft wide
Bur OakGreen leaves, no fall foliage, and produces fringey moss-like acorns. Used for various wood purposes.3-980-100 ft tall x 40 ft wide
Cherrybark OakNative to eastern TX, thrives in southern swamps. Full crown, pagoda-shaped green leaves, yellow-green spring flowers, and deep red fall foliage.3-980-100 ft tall x 60-80 ft wide
Chinkapin OakGrows throughout TX, especially in central region. Preferred for landscaping, large crown.3-960-70 ft tall x 50-60 ft wide
Chisos Red OakNamed after Chisos mountains in west TX. Found on north-facing slopes and shady canyons.3-940-50 ft tall x 30 ft wide
Emory OakEvergreen with dark, rough bark. Similar to Sandpaper and Blue Oaks. Produces large, sweet acorns.3-930-40 ft tall x 20-25 ft wide
Gray OakOften a shrub-like tree with multiple trunks. Dense crown, green cordate leaves. Wood used locally for various needs.3-950 ft tall x 30-35 ft wide
Live OakImpressive with huge form and twisting branches. Strong wood, popular for landscaping, provides ample shade.8-1150-60 ft tall x 60-100 ft wide
Mexican White OakKnown as Monterrey Oak in landscaping. Gray bark, dark green leaves, small green spring flowers.6-940 ft tall x 30-35 ft wide
Nuttall OakVertical crown, dark green perforated leaves, green acorns. Strong wood used as lumber.3-970-80 ft tall x 50-55 ft wide
Overcup OakOpen, crooked crown, large green leaves, deep red fall foliage. Acorns covered in moss-like grass.3-980-90 ft tall x 70-80 ft wide
Water OakLong oblong leaves stay on through winter. Scaly light brown bark smoothens over time.3-990-100 ft tall x 60-70 ft wide

All These Oaks, And Many More!

There are over 100 kinds of Oak trees that can be found or grown in Texas, since there’s so many types of climates and many of these trees hybridize when they grow near each other.

I hope you found this article useful for learning about and identifying Oak trees that might be growing around you, and potentially some you can start growing in your own yard!

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Peyton Warmack-Chipman

Environmental Politics & Permaculture Enthusiast

Peyton considers trees not just as plants that provide shade or yummy fruits, but as necessary for a healthy life and community. Peyton has done most of her research on environmental politics, but recently has shifted her focus towards actual agricultural practices, learning about ideas like agroforestry, food forests, and permaculture gardening. She's most often in the kitchen whipping something up, but otherwise can be found on long bike rides or doing research.

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