California Black Oak

(Quercus kelloggii)

Tribal roots
California black oak provided a fountain of resources to Native Americans of Oregon, including food, medicine, dyes, utensils, games, toys and construction materials. Acorns formed a staple food throughout much of Oregon and were eaten in the form of a soup, mush, bread or patties. Today, acorns are still gathered by people of many different tribes in southern Oregon and relished as food. 

California black oak is distributed along foothills and lower mountains of California and southern Oregon.

The California black oak is a hardwood tree with a broad rounded crown from 32 to 80 feet high. It is the largest mountain oak in the West. The trunk bark is dark and covered with small plates. The bright green leaves are distinctly six-lobed, ending in one to four bristles. The acorns are  1 to 1.5 inches in length and mature in the second year.

Common shrub associates include greenleaf manzanita, whiteleaf manzanita, deerbrush, bear-clover, oceanspray and poison-oak. Understory vegetation is generally sparse under California black oak, although shrubs may become abundant and competitive after fire or cutting.

California black oak is adapted to a climate characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters. Its climate has an average annual precipitation range of 30 to 70 inches. California black oak grows best in a zone where 10 to 50 percent of the precipitation occurs as snow.

Several attributes qualify the wood of California black oak for commercial use: attractive grain and figure for paneling and furniture, hardness and finishing qualities for flooring, and strength properties for pallets, industrial flooring and other uses. California black oak is intolerant of shade for most of its life. Young seedlings can persist in the shade; saplings can survive as intermediate trees, growing tall and thin toward the light. California black oak will grow toward openings, leaning as much as 15 to 20 degrees.


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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