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For Your Garden - November 2013

Have you been meaning to add a few native plants to your garden? Now is the perfect time. Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

pin oak (Quercus palustris)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Image by Guy Sternberg

The pin oak tree may grow to a height of 75 feet. Its lower branches droop. The bark is light or dark brown with little furrowing. The leaves are simple, up to seven inches long and divided more than one-half way to the middle into five to seven lobes, each tipped with a bristle. Leaves are arranged alternately along the branch. Male flowers are located on slender, drooping spikes. Female flowers are in clusters. The flowers are small, with male and female flowers separate but on the same tree. The pale-brown acorns grow in clusters of one to four and are up to one-half inch wide. The acorn cap encloses less than one-fourth of the acorn. The pin oak grows in floodplain woods, along streams, at the edges of swamps and near ponds. This tree flowers from April through May. Its acorns are a good source of food for many species of wildlife.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales 
Family: Fagaceae

Illinois Status: common, native