How to Identify Oak Trees in Arkansas

There are many oak tree varieties that grow in Arkansas. These trees are commonly found in lawns, particularly Spanish oak; city and residential streets, particularly willow oak; and in forests, particularly white oak. Identifying trees can be a hobby or an enjoyable family activity — or even a necessity if you need to cut down a particular tree. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you identify oak trees in Arkansas.

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Some oak trees are more distinctive than others.

Step 1

Determine whether the tree is broad-leaved (as opposed to having needles). If the tree is not broad-leaved, it is not an oak tree.

Step 2

Determine whether the leaves are simple or compound. A simple leaf has an undivided blade or, if it is divided, the divisions do not reach the midrib. A compound leaf has a fragmented blade with divisions reaching the midrib. Sometimes these fragments look like individual leaves, called leaflets. If the leaves are compound, it is not an oak tree.

Step 3

Determine whether the leaf arrangement is opposite or alternate. Opposite means that there are two leaves per node, facing opposite sides of the stem. Alternate means that there is one leaf per node at different levels of the stem. If the leaf arrangement is opposite, it is not an oak tree.

Step 4

Determine whether there are any fruit balls on the stalk. If there are fruit balls on the stalk, it is not an oak tree.

Step 5

Compare photographs of the remaining possibilities. You have now narrowed the tree down to the following possible trees found in Arkansas: black tupelo, Callery pear, white mulberry, Chinese parasol tree, sassafras, ginkgo, saucer magnolia, persimmon, willow oak, shingle oak, water oak, blackjack oak, Spanish oak, pin oak, Shumard oak, scarlet oak, northern red oak, swamp white oak, Chinkapin oak, white oak, bur oak, post oak or London planetree. Go to the Virginia Tech Dendrology website (see the Resources section ) to positively identify your particular oak tree.