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Plant type



33 - 66 ft Tall
90 ft Wide



Growth rate



Evergreen, Summer Semi-deciduous




Cream, Green

Flowering season

Winter, Spring

Common uses

Bank stabilization, Deer resistant

The Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii) is a beautiful rare oak native to Southern California. Suburban sprawl has eliminated these oaks from the majority of its native range. Most remaining trees are located in San Diego County, with small remnant populations in Pasadena, central Orange County, southern Riverside County, and Baja California south of Tecate.

It is a moderately fast-growing tree. It is generally evergreen but may be drought-deciduous during the hot, dry local summers. It has an upright form when young, but older specimens often have spectacular gnarled trunks and winding branches. The bark is thick, furrowed, and light gray-brown.

Its blue-green leaves are leathery and may be flat or wavy. The flowers are cylindrical flower clusters; its acorn fruit matures 6 to 8 months after pollination.

Englemann Oak is generally found in mesas, savannas and woodlands above the dry coastal plain, but below 4200 feet, where colder winters prevail. It typically grows up-slope from Coast Live Oaks. One of the most spectacular remaining stands of these trees is in the Engelmann Forest near Lake Dixon in San Diego County.

Englelmann Oaks are beautiful but can be tricky. They like dry soil but do best and stay green year round if near a damp or irrigated area, or where they can get their roots into the groundwater. If drought-stressed, they'll often go summer deciduous. They need plenty of room to grow. They prefer full sun and tolerate a wide range of soil types.


Full Sun, Partial Shade


Low, Very Low

Summer irrigation

Max 2x / month once established

Ease of care


Cold tolerance

Tolerates cold to 30° F

Soil drainage


Soil description

Tolerates a variety of soils including deep loamy-clay soils and shallow rocky soils.
Soil PH: 6.0 - 8.0


By acorns. For propagating by seed: Fresh seeds sow in fall outdoors or stratify to hold for spring sowing. (USDA Forest Service 1974.)

Sunset Zones

3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22, 23, 24

Often found with Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia). Understory plants include Sages (Salvia spp.), native grasses, and perennial or annual wildflowers. Where adjacent to riparian woodlands, its associates include willows (Salix spp.), Cottonwoods (Populus spp.), and California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa).

Western Sycamore

Platanus racemosa


Butterflies and moths supported

1 confirmed and 111 likely

Confirmed Likely

Abagrotis baueri

Acrobasis caliginella

Acrobasis comptella

Frosty Dagger Moth|Charred Dagger

Acronicta brumosa

Site type

Gentle rocky slopes, grassy mesas with plenty of ground water or just upslope from riparian woodlands, most often as the dominant species in Englemann Oak Woodland. Also found in conjuction with chaparral or valley grassland.

Plant communities

Chaparral, Foothill Woodland, Southern Oak Woodland, Valley Grassland