Quercus douglasii

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"Blue Oak" redirects here. For other uses, see Blue Oak (disambiguation).
Quercus douglasii
blue oak
Large Blue Oak.jpg
A large blue oak in a pasture in Mariposa County, California.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Section: Quercus
Species: Q. douglasii
Binomial name
Quercus douglasii
Hook. & Arn. 1840
Quercus douglasii range map.jpg
Natural range
  • Quercus douglasii var. ransomii (Kellogg) Beissn.
  • Quercus gambelii Liebm. 1854 not Nutt. 1848
  • Quercus oblongifolia var. brevilobata Torr.
  • Quercus ransomii Kellogg

Quercus douglasii, known as blue oak, is a species of oak endemic to (found only in) California, common in the Coast Ranges and foothills of the Sierra Nevada.[2] It is occasionally known as mountain oak and iron oak.[3][4]


Leaves and acorn

Quercus douglasii is a medium-sized tree, generally 6–20 m (20–66 ft) tall, with a trunk 36–60 cm (1.18–1.97 ft) in DBH.[5] The tallest recorded specimen was found in Alameda County, at 28.7 m (94 ft). The bark is light gray with many medium-sized dark cracks; from a distance, it can appear almost white. The name blue oak derives from the dark blue-green tint of its leaves, which are deciduous, 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long, and entire or shallowly lobed. The acorns are 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long,[6] with a moderately sweet kernel, and mature in 6–7 months from pollination.


Quercus douglasii prefers dry soil and plenty of sunlight. It is the most drought tolerant of California's deciduous oaks.[5]

Quercus douglasii often co-dominates with gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), and is also found with interior live oak (Q. wislizeni), valley oak (Q. lobata), Oregon white oak (Q. garryana),[5] canyon live oak (Q. chrysolepis), and Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii). Natural hybrids between Q. douglasii and the related shrub live oak (Q. turbinella), Q. lobata, and Q. garryana often occur where the species grow together in the same area.

Individual trees over 500 years old have been recorded, although most are less than 300 years old. Recent research has found several unlogged stands of blue oak woodlands, suggesting that the state may harbor over 500,000 acres (200,000 ha; 2,000 km2) of such old-growth forests.

Quercus douglasii is susceptible to a fungal disease known as sudden oak death, though less so than tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus), or red oaks such as coast live oak (Q. agrifolia).

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]