Lithocarpus densiflorus (Hook. & Arn.) Rehder
Tan oak, Tan-oak
Fagaceae (Beech Family)
USDA Symbol: lide3
Tan-oak is a narrow, conical (broad-crowned if open-grown) tree, growing slowly to 80 ft. in the wild. Garden specimens are rarely over 30 ft. Evergreen tree with a great central trunk and crown varying from narrow and conical to broad and rounded; sometimes a shrub. The thick, leathery, oblong, sharply toothed leaves are gray-green on the upper surface, fuzzy-white below. This is an evergreen tree.
Tanoak is placed in a separate genus with more than 100 species native to southeast Asia and Indomalaysia. While the acorns resemble those of true oaks, the flowers are like those of chinkapins and chestnuts. Tanoak bark was once the main commercial western source of tannin. Indians ground flour from the large acorns after removing the shells and washing the seeds in hot water to remove the bitter taste.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Size Class: 36-72 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
DistributionUSA: CA , OR
Native Distribution: Coast Ranges from Ventura to Del Norte Cos. & s. OR
Native Habitat: Wooded slopes below 4500 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist, sandy or gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
BenefitUse Food: Indians ground flour from the large acorns after removing the shells and washing the seeds in hot water to remove the bitter taste.
Use Other: Tan oak bark was once the main commercial western source of tannin.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Sow acorns in peat or sand soon after harvest and provide protection against animals. Vegetative propagative is possible but the take is usually poor.
Seed Collection: Acorns ripen in the second autum. Collect then.
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
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Recommended Species Lists
Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.View Recommended Species page
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Lithocarpus densiflorus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lithocarpus densiflorus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lithocarpus densiflorus
MetadataRecord Modified: 2008-10-19
Research By: TWC Staff