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Quercus chrysolepis

Quercus chrysolepis Liebm.

Canyon Live Oak

Fagaceae (Beech Family)


USDA Symbol: quch2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A wide-spreading, evergreen oak, seldom more than 60 ft. in height and often no more than a tallish shrub in dry sites. Branchlets are often pendulous. Oval leaves are toothed or smooth (sometimes both on the same tree), not lobed, and felty-white beneath. Foliage color varies from blue-green to glossy, dark-green. Evergreen tree with short trunk, large, spreading, horizontal branches, and broad, rounded crown; sometimes shrubby. Many consider this to be the most beautiful of the California oaks. The species name, meaning "golden-scale," refers to the yellowish acorn cups.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub , 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 80 feet tall or as shrub to 15 feet tall.
Leaf: Green above, bluish-white below.
Fruit: Acorn 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Male flowers in catkins, female flowers borin short spikes.


USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , OR
Native Distribution: Through cismontane CA to s.w. OR, w. NV & AZ
Native Habitat: Canyons; moist slopes; stream banks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Various moist to mesic-dry soils.


Use Wildlife: Seeds are eaten by squirrels and other small harvesters.
Use Other: The hard, heavy wood was used locally for farm implements and wagon axles and wheels. Another name, "Maul Oak," refers to the early use for heads of mauls or wedges for splitting Redwood ties.
Interesting Foliage: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Golden Hairstreak
(Habrodais grunus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Oaks are most often propagated from seed. No pretreatment is necessary. Plant immediately – outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. Many oaks require cold temperatures to initiate shoot development. Protect outdoor beds with
Seed Collection: Best quality acorns are picked or shaken from the tree. Collect when color has changed to brown. Best if sown immediately as acorns lose viability quickly in storage. Short-term storage in moist, shaded saw dust or sand. Acorns to be sown immediately can be soaked in hot water for 15 min. to prevent weevil infestation.
Seed Treatment: Stored seed should be fumigated with methyl bromide.
Commercially Avail: yes

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

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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