Consider Oregon White Oaks for Long Term Landscaping

Have you seen our last post about oak trees? Well, it offered the inspiration for this piece. While researching specifics on oak trees, we read a lot about Oregon white oaks. Out of all the oak trees found in the state, Oregon white oaks are the rarest and most interesting (at least we think so).

Oak savannah with buttercups in a meadow near Antioch Road in Sam's Valley, White City, Oregon.

Oak savanna in a meadow near Antioch Road in Sam’s Valley, White City, Oregon.

What Makes Oregon White Oaks So Interesting?

Mainly their history and heritage in Oregon, Washington, California, and British Columbia. Here are some things to know.

Oregon White Oaks Key Information

Size: Grows to 80′ tall and 3′ in diameter. Has a rounded crown when open-grown.

Leaves: Simple, alternate, deciduous. 7-9 rounded lobes; lobes often irregular. 3″-6″ long and 2″-5″ wide.

Fruit: Acorn with shallow cap, about 1″ long.

Twigs: Stout with several fuzzy buds clustered at tip. Pit is star-shaped.

Bark: Grayish in color, may be shaggy or have shallow ridges and fissures.

Distribution: Oregon white oak occurs throughout the Siskiyou Mountains, but seldom ventures west of the Coast Range summit. Only along the Columbia Gorge does it venture into eastern Oregon.

Where have all the Oaks gone?

It is estimated that less than one percent of the Oregon white oak savanna and forests found in the Willamette Valley in pre-Euro American settlement times remain standing today. During the 1800’s seeing an oak savanna was commonplace throughout the Willamette Valley. Mature oaks provided a wealth of food for the Kalapuya Indians, who used the tree’s acorns to make acorn meal each year in late August to November. Several factors have led to the disappearance of Oregon white oak groves.

Factors in the Disappearance of Oregon White Oak

  • Wildfire suppression has allowed conifer trees like Douglas Fir to encroach upon oaks – causing overtopping
    Oregon white oaks

    Oregon white oak with heritage tree plaque.

    and eventual death

  • European settlers cut them down
  • Urban development cut them down
  • Invasive species like Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom make it hard for seedlings to germinate
  • They are not used for landscaping

We’d like to argue that the Oregon white oak is a tree worth considering for landscaping even though it isn’t a popular choice. Choosing a tree can often be a difficult choice, and although they take a long time to become mature trees, oaks are beautiful, and supply much needed habitats for birds and other wildlife. If you already have a mature Oregon white oak – consider adding it to the Heritage Tree Database. We recommend giving Oregon white oaks a fair shot when it comes to long term landscaping. If you want to learn more about Oregon white oaks or other trees; we have certified arborists ready to take your call today.

Related posts