How to identify an oak tree

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how to identify an oak tree

How do you identify a oak tree?

Wondering if you are looking at a oak tree? Your clues are their leaves, buds, catkins and seeds. Here’s what they look like at-a-glance:

oak leaf
identifying oak tree buds
oak catkins

Oak tree facts

Hello! In today’s guide we are going to learn how to identify an oak tree. Are you ready? Let’s get started! Here are a few oak facts:

  • Common name: Common oak
  • Latin name: Quercus robur
  • Family: Fagaceae

Oak trees can grow up to 40 meters tall, live for over 600 years and can be found in woodlands, hedgerows, meadows and parkland.

oak leaf

Oak leaves

Oak leaves grow in small clusters, have short stems and are deep lobed with smooth margins.

identifying oak tree buds

Oak buds

Their buds grow in small clusters, are chunky, rounded, reddish-coloured and have multiple scales.

oak catkins

Oak flowers

Oak flowers are small, yellow and grow in a catkin or inflorescence.


Oak seeds (acorns)

Acorns consist of a hard, rounded or ovule-shaped fruit that grow nestled inside a knobbled cupule.

Trees that look similar to oak

oak leaf

Oak leaf

hawthorn leaf

Hawthorn leaf


Hawthorn leaves look similar to oak leaves, but are smaller, lighter and not so leathery. Also, hawthorn branches have thorns.

Oak tree uses

  • Medicinal uses – Oak bark was traditionally used as an astringent in wound healing
  • Bushcraft – Acorns are edible (although they must be processed properly first). It is an excellent choice for cooking fires as it burns slowly and low.
  • Dyeing – Oak leaves yield brown coloured dyes.
  • Industry – Oak wood is strong and dense, so used to make furniture and tools.
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