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Quercus garryana

quercus garryana, quercus garryana fact sheet
Quercus garryana, the Garry oak, Oregon white oak, Oregon oak, or Hu'dshnam, from the traditional Klamath language, is a tree species with a range stretching from southern California to southwestern British Columbia It grows from sea level to 210 meters 690 ft altitude in the northern part of its range, and at 300 to 1,800 meters 980 to 5,910 ft in the south of the range in California The tree gets one of its names from Nicholas Garry, deputy governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1822–352


  • 1 Range
  • 2 Varieties
  • 3 Growth characteristics
  • 4 Natural History
  • 5 Uses
  • 6 Conservation
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


In British Columbia, the Garry oak grows on the Gulf Islands and southeastern Vancouver Island, from west of Victoria along the east side of the island up to the Campbell River area There are also small populations along the Fraser River on the British Columbia mainland2 The northernmost population of Garry oak can be found just below 50°N on Savary Island, in the northern stretches of the Straight of Georgia3

In Washington state, the garry oak grows on the west side of the Cascade Range, particularly in the Puget Sound lowlands, the northeastern Olympic Peninsula, Whidbey Island and the San Juan Islands It also grows in the foothills of the southeastern Cascades and along the Columbia River Gorge45

In Oregon, the Garry oak grows on the west side of the Cascade Range, primarily in the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, and along the Columbia River Gorge45

In California, the garryana variety grows in the foothills of the Siskiyou and Klamath Mountains, the Coast Ranges of Northern California, and of the west slope of the Cascades The semota variety grows in the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges as far south as Los Angeles County6


There are three varieties:

  • Quercus garryana var garryana – tree to 20 30 m British Columbia south along the Cascades to the California Coast Ranges
  • Quercus garryana var breweri – shrub to 5 m; leaves velvety underneath Siskiyou Mountains
  • Quercus garryana var semota – shrub to 5 m; leaves not velvety underneath Sierra Nevada6

Growth characteristicsedit

As the fruit matures, the involucre hardens and becomes a shallow receptacle that contains an acorn

It is a drought-tolerant tree, typically of medium height, growing slowly to around 20 m occasionally as high as 30 m or as a shrub to 3 to 5 meters 98 to 164 ft tall It has the characteristic oval profile of other oaks when solitary, but is also known to grow in groves close enough together that crowns may form a canopy The leaves are deciduous, 5–15 cm long and 2–8 cm broad, with 3-7 deep lobes on each side The flowers are catkins, the fruit a small acorn 2–3 cm rarely 4 cm long and 15–2 cm broad, with shallow, scaly cups

The Oregon white oak is commonly found in the Willamette Valley hosting the mistletoe Phoradendron flavescens It is also commonly found hosting galls created by wasps in the family Cynipidae 'Oak apples', green or yellow ball of up to 5 cm in size, are the most spectacular7 They are attached to the undersides of leaves One common species responsible for these galls is Cynips maculipennis Other species create galls on stems and leaves Shapes vary from spheres to mushroom-shaped to pencil-shaped

Garry oak leaves

In British Columbia, the Garry oak can be infested by three nonnative insects: the jumping gall wasp Neuroterus saltatorius, the oak leaf phylloxeran, and the gypsy moth2

While the invasive plant disease commonly called Sudden Oak Death attacks other Pacific Coast native oaks, it has not yet been found on the Garry oak Most oak hosts of this disease are in the red oak group, while Garry oak is in the white oak group8

Natural Historyedit

Garry oak is the only native oak species in British Columbia, Washington, and northern Oregon In these areas, Garry oak woodlands are seral, or early-successional – they depend on disturbance to avoid being overtaken by Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii The disturbance allowing Garry oak to persist in an area that would otherwise succeed to coniferous forest was primarily fire Natural wildfires are relatively common in the drier portions of the Pacific Northwest where Garry oak is found, but fire suppression has made such events much less common In addition, early settlers' records, soil surveys, and tribal histories indicate that deliberate burning was widely practiced by the indigenous people of these areas Fire perpetuated the grasslands that produced food sources such as camas, chocolate lily, bracken fern, and oak; and that provided grazing and easy hunting for deer and elk Mature Garry oaks are fire-resistant, and so would not be severely harmed by grass fires of low intensity Such fires prevented Douglas-fir and most other conifer seedlings from becoming established, allowing bunch grass prairie and Garry oak woodland to persist Fire also kept oak woodlands on drier soils free of a shrub understory Wetter oak woodlands historically had a substantial shrub understory, primarily snowberry9

Gall on Garry oak, Sonoma County

Garry oak woodlands in British Columbia and Washington are critical habitats for a number of species that are rare or extirpated in these areas, plant, animal, and bryophyte:910

  • Propertius duskywing butterfly Erynnis propertius, sole larval food plant is oak
  • Bucculatrix zophopasta leaf-mining moth, sole larval food plant is oak
  • Lewis woodpecker Melanerpes lewis
  • Slender billed nuthatch Sitta carolinensis aculeata
  • Sharp tailed snake Contia tenuis
  • Western gray squirrel Sciurus griseus
  • Western tanager Piranga ludoviciana
  • Western wood peewee Contopus sordidulus
  • Western bluebird Sialia mexicana
  • Sessile trillium Trillium parviflorum
  • Banded cord-moss Entosthodon fascicularis
  • Apple moss Bartramia stricta
  • liverwort Riccia ciliata
A Garry oak grove

Garry oak woodlands create a landscape mosaic of grassland, savanna, woodland, and closed-canopy forest This mosaic of varied habitats, in turn, allows many more species to live in this area than would be possible in coniferous forest alone Parks Canada states that Garry oak woodlands support more species of plants than any other terrestrial ecosystem in British Columbia11 It grows in a variety of soil types, for instance, rocky outcrops, glacial gravelly outwash, deep grassland soils, and seasonally flooded riparian areas910

The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 encouraged Anglo settlement of Washington and Oregon, and marked the beginning of the end of regular burning by Indians of the area Perdue IN Dunn and Ewing9 The arrival of Europeans also reduced the number of natural fires that took place in Garry oak habitat With fire suppression and conversion to agriculture, Garry oak woodlands and bunch grass prairies were invaded by Douglas-fir, Oregon ash Fraxinus latifolia, and imported pasture grasses Oaks were logged to clear land for pasture, and for firewood and fence posts Livestock grazing trampled and consumed oak seedlings By the 1990s, more than half the Garry oak woodland habitat in the South Puget Sound area of Washington was gone9 On Vancouver Island, more than 90% was gone10 Remaining Garry oak woodlands are threatened by urbanization, conversion to Douglas-fir woodland, and invasion by shrubs, both native and nonnative Scotch broom Cytisus scoparius, sweetbriar rose Rosa eglanteria, snowberry Symphoricarpos albus, Indian plum Oemleria cerasiformis, poison-oak Toxicodendron diversilobum, English holly Ilex aquifolium, bird cherry Prunus avens5 Conversely, oak groves in wetter areas that historically had closed canopies of large trees are becoming crowded with young oaks that grow thin and spindly, due to lack of fires that would clear out seedlings9

Chionodes petalumensis caterpillars feed on oak leaves, including those of the Garry oak Quercus garryana12 and valley oak Q lobata13


Although the wood has a beautiful grain, it is difficult to season without warping, and therefore the Garry oak has not historically been regarded as having any commercial value and is frequently destroyed as land is cleared for development Recently the wood, which is similar to that of other white oaks, has been used experimentally in Oregon for creating casks in which to age wine When used as firewood, garry oak produces 28 million BTUs per cord burned14


Garry oaks and their ecosystems are the focus of conservation efforts, including communities such as Tacoma, Washington, where an Oak Tree Park has been established; Oak Bay, British Columbia, which is named after the tree; and Corvallis, Oregon15 Oak Harbor, Washington, named after the tree and home to Smith Park that contains a dense grove of mature Garry Oak trees, is actively pursuing conservation of the city's namesake tree with the formation of the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society16

In southwest Washington, significant acreages of Garry oaks are preserved in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, in sites such as the Scatter Creek Unit, which contain some of the few remaining areas of south Puget Sound prairie

In Oak Bay, British Columbia, a fine of up to $10,000 may be issued for each Garry oak tree cut or damaged17

See alsoedit

  • Trees portal
  • Media related to Quercus garryana category at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ The Plant List, Quercus garryana Douglas ex Hook
  2. ^ a b c "GOERT" Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team Retrieved 3 February 2011 
  3. ^ "Sand Dune Ecosystems on Savary Island, BC" PDF Savary Island Land Trust Retrieved 17 July 2017 
  4. ^ a b "Burke Herbarium" University of Washington Retrieved 3 February 2011 
  5. ^ a b c Franklin and Dyrness 1988 Natural Vegetation of Oregon and Washington Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University Press ISBN 0-87071-356-6 
  6. ^ a b "USDA PLANTS Database" United States Department of Agriculture Retrieved 3 February 2011 
  7. ^ Haggard, Peter and Judy 2006 Insects of the Pacific Northwest Portland, Oregon: Timber Press ISBN 978-0-88192-689-7 
  8. ^ APHIS "Phytophthora ramorum host list" USDA Retrieved 6 February 2011 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Dunn and Ewing 1997 Ecology and Conservation of the South Puget Sound Landscape Seattle: The Nature Conservancy 
  10. ^ a b c Lea; Miles; McIntosh 2006 "Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team Colloquium" PDF 
  11. ^ Parks Canada "Garry Oak Ecosystems" Retrieved 7 February 2011 
  12. ^ Tatum, J B Chionodes petalumensis Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island 2007
  13. ^ C petalumensis: Host plants Natural History Museum, London
  14. ^ "What is the best firewood to burn" Firewoodresource Retrieved 14 October 2012 
  15. ^ Barnes, Marc November 2003 "Bald Hill Oak Restoration" Oregon Oak Communities Working Group Archived from the original on September 12, 2011 Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  16. ^ Newberry, Ron April 11, 2015 "Group aims to save Garry oaks" Sound Publishing Whidbey News Times Retrieved 3 October 2015 
  17. ^ "Trees on Your Property - An Information Guide to Oak Bay’s Tree Protection Bylaw" PDF Oak Bay BC Retrieved 18 April 2012 

External linksedit

  • Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team: Information about native plant gardening, propagation, removing invasive plants and events for beginners to professionals
  • Flora of North America: Quercus garryana
  • Plants of British Columbia: Quercus garryana
  • Jepson Flora Project: Quercus garryana
  • Province of British Columbia – Ministry of Environment: Garry Oak Ecosystem – PDF
  • Province of British Columbia – Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations: Garry Oak

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