Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.
Search native plant database:
Quercus ilicifolia Wangenh.
Bear oak, Scrub oak
USDA Symbol: QUIL
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
A small tree or shrub, 12-20 ft. tall with a short, contorted trunk; slender, horizontal branches; and bristle-lobed leaves turning reddish-purple in fall. Catkin appears just before or with the appearance of new leaves. BARK:
dark gray, thin mature bark
becoming scaly. TWIGS
and BUDS: pubescent
yellowish-brown to brown
twigs when young, dark
brown and smooth when
older; terminal buds ovoid
and 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) long. LEAVES: smooth petiole up to 2 3⁄8 inches (60 mm) in length; leaves are ovate to elliptical, 2 - 4 3⁄4 inches
￼￼￼￼￼- 38 -
￼(51 - 121 mm)
long, 1 1⁄8 - 3 1⁄2
inches (29 - 89
mm) wide, base
shaped), 3 - 7
lobes separated by
and ending in 1 - 3
apex usually has
3-tipped lobe, thick
and leathery, upper surface shiny dark green, lower surface pale green to gray with dense woolly pubescence, secondary veins raised on both surfaces.
A temporary scrub type after heavy cutting and repeated fires, Bear Oak is replaced by taller pines and oaks. The Latin species name, meaning holly leaf, refers to the foliage. It is called Bear Oak, reportedly because only bears like the very bitter acorns. Bear oak is a transition species that depends upon stand disturbance. Fire promotes this species.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub
, Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Elliptic
, Ovate Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Margin:
Lobed Leaf Base: Cuneate Leaf Texture:
Leathery Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Catkin Fruit Type: Nut Size Notes:
Normally grows to a height of 18 feet (5.5 m) and occasionally to
41 feet (12.5 m). Leaf:
Upper surface shiny dark green, lower surface pale green to gray with dense woolly pubescence. Autumn Foliage:
Acorns biennial; cup is reddish-brown with pubescent
scales, inner surface pubescent,
covers up to 1⁄2 of the nut; ovoid, light brown nut
with faint stripes and minute pubescence, up to 5⁄8 inch
(16 mm) long. Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
, WV Canada: ON Native Distribution:
w. to NY,
s. to PA, MD
& in the mts. to e. WV,
& w. NC. Native Habitat:
Disturbed areas; barrens; rocky ridges. Often found in pure stands associated with dry sandy, barren, and rocky hillsides, or mountainous terrain.
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Acidic, sandy or gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Can suffer chlorosis due to absence of soil nutrients. Long-lived. A
BenefitUse Wildlife: Acorns provide food for wildlife, especially turkey and grouse.
Use Medicinal: The Iroquois peoples used bear oak for treating gynecological problems.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery
- Quakertown, PA
Record Last Modified: 2011-09-26
Research By: TWC Staff