Quercus gambelii – Gambel Oak

Quercus gambelii - Gambel Oak, Gambel's Oak (leaves)

Quercus gambelii - Gambel Oak, Gambel's Oak

Quercus gambelii - Gambel Oak, Gambel's Oak (bark)

Quercus gambelii - Gambel Oak, Gambel's Oak

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Quercus gambelii

Common Names: Gambel Oak, Gambel's Oak

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Deciduous

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Upland, Mountain. This plant grows in oak and pine woodlands and canyons at middle to upper elevations in the mountains.

Flower Color: Inconspicuous (yellowish, greenish, and brownish)

Flowering Season: Spring

Height: Up to 40 feet (12 m) tall

Description: The plants are monoecious with separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The tiny female flowers are either solitary or clustered on small spikes in the leaf axils, while the small male flowers are in drooping catkins. The female flowers are followed by solitary or clustered, plump, egg-shaped to ellipsoid, hard-shelled, green maturing to light brown acorns enclosed in a rough, woody cupule or "cap". The distinctive leaves are large, green, alternate, elliptic in shape, and shallowly to deeply pinnately lobed with large, round-tipped to subacute lobes. The leaves turn a golden yellow or yellow-orange color in the autumn. The bark is rough, scaly, grayish brown, and longitudinally fissured. The trunk and large branches are often a bit gnarled. The twigs are brown to red-brown in color and have brown buds.

Special Characteristics

Allergenic – The flower pollen is a severe allergen.

Edible – The shelled acorns are edible and were eaten by Native Americans, but they may be bitter due to high amounts of tannin and would need to be leached in water to make them palatable.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Hamamelididae
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae – Beech family
Genus: Quercus L. – oak
Species: Quercus gambelii Nutt. – Gambel oak

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map