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California White OakQuercus lobata

  • Northern Red Oak - Quercus rubra
  • California Oak Tree
  • California Oak Tree
  • California Oak Tree

The California white oak is considered the king of all western oaks, and rightly so. Trees of this species are among the largest oaks in North America. Although it doesn’t thrive in many Hardiness Zones, the tree makes up for that limitation with graceful, drooping branches, a fast growth rate and nice shade.

It’s a choice tree for restoration or specimen planting.

Hardiness Zones

The california white oak can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 7–11. View Map

Tree Type

This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

Mature Size

The California white oak grows to a height of 40–70' and a spread of around 60' at maturity.

Growth Speed Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The California white oak grows well in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and clay soils. It tolerates drought but not wet conditions.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Is very tolerant of drought and should not be irrigated very often once established.
  • Features oblong to ovate dark green leaves with 7–11 deep lobes. The coloring changes very little in the fall.
  • Develops graceful, drooping branches.
  • Yields edible, oblong acorns that are 1¼–2¼" long and brown in color with a slightly sweet flavor. The nuts ripen between August and October.
  • Relies on wind for pollination.
  • Lives for more than 200 years.
  • Grows in an oval to rounded shape.

Wildlife Value

The California white oak is used by animals more than any tree in its native range for food and nesting sites. The sweet acorns are eaten by deer, squirrels, smaller rodents and acorn woodpeckers, which not only feast upon acorns but also store them in dead trees and utility poles for use in lean years. Rather than store the acorns in cavities, the woodpeckers drill many small holes into a selected tree or pole and insert one acorn into each hole.

History/Lore

The California white oak is native to the valleys of western and central California. It can live for 200 years or more. The wood is used for wine barrels and in the construction of steam boats.