Oak Tree Identification
Though oaks and maple trees may look very similar in stature and foliage, there are stark differences between the two.
Oaks and maples are both deciduous trees, meaning they lose their foliage in the fall, with new growth coming on in the early spring months.
The overall stature of these two trees differs. Oaks tend to have much rougher and gnarled bark than maples. The bark of an oak is very rough and thick, with deep fissures running vertically along the trunk, where a maple is much smoother and delicate to the eye. The coloration of oak bark is often a grey-brown shade (White Oak), with Red Oaks having a brown-brick reddish hue.
Another telltale sign of an oak is the foliage. Oak leaves tend to be long and maintain a constant width along most of their length. An oak’s leaves tend to be dark green with a quite thick and strong stem. When held to a light, one can see the almost woody veins running along the entire leaf. They feel similar to leather and are difficult to tear.
Maple leaves are broad at the base and have delicate, horizontal offshoots. Their stems and leaves are much softer to the touch than oak’s foliage, and can be easily torn.
Branches of an oak tree are gnarled and often look like they have been badly abused. Maples tend to have consistent and organized growth.
The trunk of an old oak is usually very thick, with a diameter that the average adult’s arms cannot reach around. Oaks can often look like there are several trees growing from the same roots. Many have large caverns dug into them and continue to live even in a state that would kill many other tree species.
Oaks can grow to be very tall, often reaching 70-100 feet tall, making it one of the tallest trees in the forest.
Oak wood is particularly useful to makers of wine and whiskey. Wine is aged in barrels made of oak, and chardonnays and sauvignon blancs often adopt the fragrance of the wood barrel.
The most obvious way to tell the difference between oaks and maples is by examining the seeds. Oaks create acorns for reproduction. Squirrels often collect acorns for their high-energy supply, and the squirrels nest in these trees. and nest in oaks. Maples create seed pods, often referred to as "helicopters" because of their effect when falling to the ground in autumn.