Quercus garryana

 

Common name: Oregon white oak, Garry oak[1]

Scientific name: Quercus garryana [1]

Plant family: Fagaceae (Beech family)[2]

 

Description:  Quercus garryana is a deciduous tree that can grow to about 65 feet high and 35 feet wide.  In dry and rocky habitats they are shorter and more crooked. Its 12 cm deeply round-lobed leaves are a shiny dark green on top and greenish-yellow below.  In fall they turn yellow-brown.  It has light grey bark with thick furrows and ridges.  Its 2-3 cm long acorn fruits are clustered in clumps of 2-3 shallow, rough surfaced cups.[1] The acorns ripen in October.  Its flowers are monoecious, meaning that each flower is either male or female but both can be found on the same tree.[3] The male flowers appear in hanging catkins and the female flowers in small, single clusters.[1]

 

Habitat: Oregon white oaks prefer wet soils that are loamy or have high clay content but can also grow in well-drained and dry soils, but will be stunted. They tolerate acidic, neutral, and basic soils and can grow semi-shade or full sun.[3]

Range: Quercus garryana is frost tolerant and hardy to zone 6.  It generally grows in lower elevations and does not tolerate maritime conditions.  It is found all along the west coast from British Columbia to Southern California.[3]

 

Historical and Contemporary Uses

Acorns, the seeds of Quercus garryana, continue to be eaten all along the west coast.  Traditionally, people buried the acorns in mud (Paiute) or put them in a bag to soak in a stream to leach out the tannins.  After leaching, they have a sweet taste and can be ground to serve as a replacement for flour to make breads and porridges.  Roasted acorns can be used to make a tasty coffee substitute.[4]  Wood from Quercus garryana has been used to make arrows, bowls, and combs. Oregon vintners continue to experiment with using it to make wine barrels.


[1] Pojar and Mackinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast

[2] USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=QUGA4

[4] University of Michigan http://herb.umd.umich.edu/herb/search.pl?searchstring=Quercus+garryana

Photos credits: Plants for a Future http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Quercus+garryana and UC Berkeley photo database http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?query_src=photos_index&where-taxon=Quercus+garryana.

Sketch credit: E-Flora BC http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Quercus%20garryana

Story on the following page: Vloggerheads http://www.vloggerheads.com/profiles/blogs/oregon-white-oak-or-more-than