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Oak Tree Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristina Washington-Morris

Kristina has taught a variety of elementary classes and has a master's degree in elementary education.

Wouldn't it be amazing to live hundreds of years? Think of all the events and environmental changes you could witness if you lived to be 800! Well humans can't live this long, but oak trees can. This lesson explores facts about the mighty oak tree.

Oak Trees

Have you ever played beneath a large, shady oak tree or collected acorns in the fall? Let's explore the oak tree and learn facts about this mighty plant. In 2004, the mighty oak (genus Quercus) became the national tree of the United States. There are nearly 600 species of oak trees, and most states have them within their borders.

Oak trees can also be found in England, Japan, China, Germany, and many other countries found in the northern hemisphere. Even though there are hundreds of different types of oak trees, they all have similarities. Let's take a look at what makes a mighty oak so mighty!

Types of Oak Trees

While there are over 600 different varieties, they fall into two categories: white oaks or red oaks. White oaks have rounded lobe leaves, while red oaks have pointed lobe leaves.

Oak Tree Red and White

Oak trees can be either evergreens or deciduous. Evergreen trees keep their leaves all year round. Deciduous trees have leaves that change color and fall off in the colder months. Oak trees are more often evergreens in warmer environments where winters are mild.

A Deciduous Oak Tree in the Fall
deciduous

It All Starts with an Acorn

Acorns are the fruit of oak trees. Oak trees can produce nearly a thousand acorns a year. Acorns vary in size and color with the different species of oak trees. Most acorns are small - about the size of a bouncy ball. Inside each acorn is a seed that has the potential of growing into a mighty oak tree.

Acorns Hanging in an Oak Tree
acorn

It Takes Time to Mature

Very few acorns that drop from an oak tree will actually grow into plants, because it takes weeks for an acorn to successfully germinate, or grow from a seed into a plant. Most acorns are picked up by other animals before germination, limiting the amount of saplings or baby tree plants.

When an oak tree sapling does begin to grow, it will take at least 20 years before the tree can produce acorns of its own. This may seem like a long time, but oak trees live hundreds of years so these early decades are just like the preschool years for humans.

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