Red oak (Quercus rubra)

North of SMATE Map

A grove of a half-dozen of these vigorous trees decorates the grassy area between SMATE and Carver gym, immediately west of our signature Empress tree. Given enough time (50 years should do) they may convert that much-loved pleasant area of speckled shade into a fair imitation of the forest primeval; champion red oaks top out at well over 100 ft. tall, with comparable lateral dimensions to their crowns. Absent chain saws, of course.

Red oak flourishes naturally in eastern North America, where it forms pure stands that have been cut over for timber for centuries. It has been planted extensively throughout North America and Europe, wherever a space large enough to accommodate it needs a tree. Red oak puts on a fine autumn display. It is said to be relatively impervious to urban pollution. For centuries its wood has been cut for uses ranging from fine cabinetry and firewood to railroad ties. Native Americans apparently ate its acorns, after an elaborate leeching process that rid them of their native bitterness. No such nicety appears to have occurred to our growing cadre of gray and black squirrels, who gobble them voraciously.