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Quercus acutissima

Sawtooth Oak
Evergreen, Trees


The archetypal oak grows large and spreads wide, with muscular, near-horizontal lower branches that seem to defy gravity. But the group’s 500 species, all native to the Northern Hemisphere, also include upright, pyramidal, and shrubby oaks; in fact, “chaparral” comes from chaparra—Spanish for a dwarf evergreen shrub oak. Oak leaves can be deciduous or evergreen (the latter are called live oaks); lobed, toothed, or smooth edged; but they’re always arranged in an alternate pattern along stems. Some have terrific fall color. All oaks produce inconspicuous flowers followed by acorns, whose single nuts have cuplike caps covered with closely set scales. Some kinds of acorns are edible and sweet, while others are bitter and unpalatable.

Oaks come in two broad categories: white oaks have acorns that mature during the season in which they are produced, and often have leaves with rounded lobes; red and black oaks have acorns that take two seasons to mature, and often have leaves with pointed lobes. Each group can hybridize only within itself. 

Quercus acutissima

Deciduous tree. Moderate to fast growth to 35–45 ft. (ultimately 50–70 ft.) tall and wide, usually with open, spreading habit. Dark gray bark with red-brown furrows. Shiny dark green, pointed, oblong leaves are 3–7 in. long, with bristle-toothed, slightly wavy edges; they look like chestnut (Castanea) leaves. Foliage is yellowish when new, turns yellow to yellowish brown in fall; may hang on late into winter. Acorns are blunt cylinders to 1 in. long, enclosed for two-thirds of their length in a burlike cap. Prefers well-drained, slightly acid soil but is fairly tolerant of other soils. Good shade or lawn tree.

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