Red Oak

Quercus rubra

Red Oak

The red oak played a major role in early industry of Transylvania County, but its usefulness was well known before the arrival of the earliest European explorers and settlers. The Cherokee used oak splits to make baskets and oak bark to make tea for various tonics and medicines, as well as creating a wash to be used for skin irritations. The bark contains tannins, which are an astringent that tightens pores and draws out liquid. A paste made of chewed oak bark was used as a treatment for bee stings and poison ivy. The tannins in oak and chestnut bark were also widely used in the leather tanning industry, and availability of these trees was one factor that enticed Joseph Silversteen to open his tanneries in Rosman and Brevard.

Red oak is also an important timber industry product, as the strong, hard wood is used for flooring, furniture, millwork, timbers, wagon wheels, and pilings. The bitter acorns of this fast-growing tree are a food source for game animals such as deer, squirrels, bears, and wild turkeys. The acorns, which take two years to develop, were also eaten by Native Americans.

Sponsor: Gene & Sally Baker

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