Sawtooth Oak

A Basic Guide to the Sawtooth Oak

The Sawtooth Oak, quercus acutissima, is a large deciduous tree found in various parts of the world. Although it originated in Asia, it can now be found widely in North America and certain parts of Europe. It was originally brought to North America to help feed wildlife, since it produces denser crops of acorns than other trees, but unfortunately, the acorns are very bitter and animals will only eat them during the winter if other food sources are scarce.


The Sawtooth Oak is an impressive tree, growing to be 45 feet or high in height with a spreading width of 35 – 50 feet. The trunk and bark of this tree are deeply furrowed and tend to be a deep gray-brown color with a coarse texture.

 The leaves of this tree have a bristled edge and during the springtime they are an appealing shade of yellow-green. During the fall, the leaves turn to dull shades of yellow and brown. During the winter, brown leaves tend to hang onto the branches instead of completely falling off.

Uses in Landscape

The Sawtooth Oak, while not a very popular choice for private landscaping in residential areas, serves many practical landscaping purposes. Its height and foliage density allows it to be an excellent barrier tree in highway medians. It can also be found as a shade provider in large parking lot islands and along some residential streets, although it is not frequently used in urban settings.


Several concerns must be addressed before deciding to incorporate the Sawtooth Oak in any landscaping plan, be it private lawn or busy street decoration. The tree’s size proves to be a problem in many ways. Because of its height and spread, the tree tends to droop as it gets older. This will require a great deal of pruning to prevent this. Lateral branches will have to be removed and vertical branching must be encouraged.

It is also wise to ensure that this species of tree gets enough room for its growing roots and flaring trunk. Part of the reason this tree is not popular in urban settings is due to the fact that the Sawtooth Oak’s trunk flares out at the bottom and can lift sidewalks and pavement.

Another drawback is the original purpose for bringing this tree to America in the first place; the amount of acorns. This species drops an incredible amount of acorns, twigs, and foliage, leaving a significant amount of litter on the ground to be cleaned up.


Strong Points

Despite the acorns and the pruning concerns, this tree has several high points as well that should be noted. Although it prefers well-drained acidic soil, this tree is extremely adaptable and can grow in less-than-desirable locations. Even areas with high pollution and poor soil have managed to accommodate the needs of the tree. This tree also grows incredibly fast, averaging a growth of 3 full feet per year into adulthood.

Although a tree like this should typically attract a litany of pests, insects are not usually a problem that arises very often. Aphids can be a concern, but helpful insects that may take up residence in this tree generally keep their populations down to almost nothing. If extra help is needed, purchasing a small brood of ladybugs can help with the rest.

Disease is another problem that Sawtooth Oaks manage to avoid. As with pests, the potential for a multitude of diseases should be of a concern, but this species of oak is generally disease free.

While irrigation can be helpful during the early stages of growth, Sawtooth Oaks can thrive without any irrigation as adults.