Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

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.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Quercus turbinella (Shrub live oak)
Anderson, Wynn

Quercus turbinella

Quercus turbinella Greene

Shrub Live Oak, Sonoran Scrub Oak, Scrub Oak, Turbinella Oak, Turbinella, Encino

Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Synonym(s): Quercus dumosa var. turbinella

USDA Symbol: QUTU2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Shrub live oak is almost always a dense shrub, 6-12 ft. high, however it may become more tree-like in favorable habitats. Rigid branches bear attractive, gray-green, bristle-tipped leaves. The holly-like leaves unfold a reddish color, changing to shiny lime-green before becoming blue and bloomy. These leaves remain on the shrub all year, being pushed off by the new. Evergreen, much-branched, thicket-forming shrub or small tree with a spreading crown.

The name turbinella, meaning "like a little top," refers to the acorns. Shrub Live Oak is the characteristic shrub in the chaparral vegetation of Arizona mountain slopes. The foliage is browsed by wildlife and occasionally by livestock.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall when growing as a tree. Often shrub-like, up to about 12 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AZ , CA , CO , NM , NV , TX , UT
Native Distribution: S.w. CO to s. CA, s. to extreme w. TX & AZ; also Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry slopes; chaparral; pinyon-juniper woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry or moist, sands or clays.
Conditions Comments: Can be thicket-forming. Adaptable. Highly drought-tolerant.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA


Bibref 766 - Dale Groom's Texas Gardening Guide (2002) Groom, D.
Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Quercus turbinella in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quercus turbinella in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quercus turbinella


Record Modified: 2022-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back