Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak, Plateau live oak, Hill country live oak, Texas live oak, Scrub live oak, Plateau oak, Encino molino, Tesmoli

Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak)
Flaigg, Norman G.
Plateau oak or Escarpment live oak is a thicket-forming shrub or large, spreading tree that is nearly identical in appearance to, and considered much hardier than, Q. virginiana. A short, tapering trunk supports picturesquely gnarled branches and limbs that over time will spread horizontally a great distance from the main trunk. It can reach a height of 20-40 ft. Leaves are evergreen, firm textured, ovate to elliptic, 1 to 3 inches long; usually without lobes except on young plants and rootsprouts, then with pointed lobes. The leaves are generally slightly smaller than those of Q. virginiana. Acorns 3/4 to 1 inch long, rather elongate. Unlike Coastal live oak, acorns are spindle-shaped (fusiform), narrowed at the base.

Ranging from the Glass Mountains and Arbuckle Mountains of southern Oklahoma south through the center of Texas to the mountains of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and Nuevo Leon in Mexico, Quercus fusiformis is the common live oak used in landscaping and found in the wild in central Texas. It is more drought-tolerant and cold-hardy than Q. virginiana, which it is sometimes considered a variety of. Like Q. virginiana, its magnificent, stately form has endeared it to generations of residents and it remains popular to this day. Also like Q. virginiana, it is susceptible to live oak wilt and live oak decline when stressed by drought, so care must be taken to protect it from injury both aboveground and below ground to prevent infection. The largest known Texas live oak grows in Real County, Texas.

Image Gallery:

46 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Lanceolate , Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute , Obtuse
Leaf Base: Cordate , Rounded , Truncate
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: 20-40 ft tall
Leaf: Upper surface a glossy light to dark green, grayish- green beneath with dense pubescent bloom that rubs off.
Flower: Flowers 2-3 inches long
Fruit: Acorns annual; peduncle 1⁄8 - 11⁄8 inches (3 - 29 mm) supporting 1 - 5 nuts, cup has narrow base, light gray scales with reddish-tips may be smooth or pubescent encloses 1⁄4 - 1⁄2 of nut; dark brown, narrow and oblong nut with light brown stripes, 5⁄8 - 1 inch (16 - 25 mm) long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft. , 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


Native Distribution: Limited to southern Oklahoma, Texas between the Brazos and Pecos rivers, and the mountains of northeastern Mexico (Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas).
Native Habitat: Savannahs, rocky hills, & uplands with limestone or calcareous loam soils.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky, sandy, clay, or loam soils, usually calcareous, including caliche, but also in slightly acidic sands
Conditions Comments: Those from southern Oklahoma are the most cold-hardy, surviving temperatures as low as -20 degrees F.


Use Ornamental: Shade tree, Attractive
Use Wildlife: It provides cover and nesting sites for birds and small mammals. Its acorns feed birds and mammals.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Hairstreak, Horaces Duskywing

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Quercus fusiformis is a larval host and/or nectar source for:

(Hemileuca peigleri)
Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-12-08