Leaves have rounded lobes and are hairless when mature. Some old light brown leaves are often persistent on the trees over the winter. In spring, the small young leaves are silvery pink and covered with fine hair. Fruit is an acorn. Bark is light gray with overlapping scales. Trees mainly grow in dry woods, but can also be found along roadsides and in pastures.
There are three different ways to identify the three species of oaks:
Leaves: Red and black oaks have leaves with pointed lobes and white oaks have leaves with rounded lobes. Red and black oaks have highly variable leaves, but red oaks usually have 7-11 lobes and are somewhat dull on the upper surface compared to the black oak which has leaves with 5-7 lobes and is more shiny on the upper surface.
Bark: The bark of red oaks is dark and forms long, thin strips with rough shiny edges. Black oaks have dark bark that forms block shapes without ridges. White oak bark is light gray and often scaly.
Buds: Red oak buds are hairless and can be pointy or blunt. Black oaks buds are gray and hairy. White oaks buds are small, reddish brown, and blunt.