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Quercus agrifolia (California live oak)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Quercus agrifolia

Quercus agrifolia Née

California Live Oak, Coast Live Oak, Encino Verde

Fagaceae (Beech Family)


USDA Symbol: quag

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A picturesque, broad-canopied, evergreen oak, 20-50 ft. high and wide. Old trees can reach 100 ft. Thick, slightly glossy, gray-green leaves are oval and holly-like.Evergreen tree with short, stout trunk; many large, crooked, spreading branches; and broad, rounded crown; sometimes shrubby. This is the common oak of the California coast and foothills, forming parklike groves that often appear in the scenery of motion pictures made in Hollywood.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin , Spike
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Height to 100 feet.
Leaf: Green
Flower: Male catkins 2-4 inches long.
Fruit: Light brown acorn. 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Males yellow-green catkin, females reddish green spike.


Native Distribution: CA Coast Ranges from Sonoma Co. s. to Baja California
Native Habitat: Coastal valleys & slopes below 3500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Well-drained soil.


Use Ornamental: Hedge.
Use Wildlife: Attracts Oak Titmouse, Western Scrub Jay, Steller's Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and about 30 other species of birds.
Use Food: The acorns were among those preferred by Indians; after removing the shells, they ground the seeds into meal, which was washed to remove the bitter taste, and boiled into mush or baked in ashes as bread.
Use Other: Long-lived.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: California sister butterfly.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Propertius Duskywing
(Erynnis propertius)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Mournful Duskywing
(Erynnis tristis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
California Sister
(Adelpha bredowii)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2015-12-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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