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What Is the State Tree of New Jersey?

Jillian O Keeffe
Jillian O Keeffe

The state tree of New Jersey is the Northern red oak. This tree was given this designation in 1950. It is deciduous, which means that it has leaves that fall off each year, and typically grows up to 100 feet (about 30 m) in height. The red oak produces acorns each year. The Northern red oak grows throughout the eastern states from Canada down to North Carolina.

Scientifically, the tree is named Quercus rubra. An older version of the scientific name, common during the first half of the 20th century, was Quercus borealis. In earlier years, the name Quercus rubra also referred to what is modernly called the Southern red oak. Northern red oak also goes by various other names, such as the common red oak, gray oak and the mountain red oak.

One of the reasons the government of the state chose this emblem was that the tree is native to the area. The state tree of New Jersey lives a long time, grows to be quite tall and is a colorful addition to natural beauty in the region during fall.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Acorns fall from the tree from August through October. These acorns are typically about 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) in length and have spent two years on the tree. These particular acorns are not very appealing to the animals that live in the region, so typically more red oak acorns manage to germinate and produce new trees compared to the acorns of other oak species.

Flowers may appear on the state tree of New Jersey from April to May, and the green leaves turn orange in fall, and then leave the tree's branches bare over winter. The Northern red oak has also with other, closely related oak trees to create hybrid trees. These include black oak, swamp oak and blackjack oak.

The Northern red oak has a unique history and is known for its usefulness. Native Americans gathered the acorns and made flour from them. The wood of the trunk is hardwood, and is suitable for many purposes, such as creating furniture, fencing or wooden floorboards. Red oak wood also burns well in fireplaces.

Other animals also seem to appreciate the resources of the red oak. Deer like eating the leaves and nibbling on the young trees. Some animals do like the taste of the acorns from the state tree of New Jersey, including deer, various species of squirrels and mice. Certain pest species also find the leaves of the tree tasty, such as the caterpillars of the gypsy moth.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - I guess people don't eat acorns so much anymore because it's much easier to grow, harvest and prepare grains like wheat than to do the same thing with acorns for flour.

I've often thought if I ever managed to buy some land I would plant it with oaks and walnuts, because they are worth quite a lot when they get to a certain age, and my kids would be able to cash in on that. I'd plant them over time, so that there was always a supply, and I would use the walnuts and the acorns for food.

It would depend on where the land was situated, but red oak trees are lovely and I would definitely consider having them in my forest. Since they can tend to out compete other oaks, though, I'd have to take that into consideration.


Just in case you are thinking about trying to use acorns for food, remember that they have a high concentration of tannin, so you have to prepare them first.

They were once eaten by cultures around the world, including the Japanese, which might surprise people who thought of them as something that only Native Americans ate. I believe there are still some Korean dishes that are made from acorns.

But, the kind of acorn is important for the preparation as some are more difficult to manage than others. So, if you want to eat red oak acorns, you'd be smart to have a look at what the local native tribes once did to prepare them for flour.

Most likely they boiled them for some time to get rid of the tannins and then dried them and ground them up.

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