Gambel Oak

Genus Quercus
Beech Family (Fagaceae)



Gambel Oak with flowers -- early spring)

Gambel Oak
(Quercus gambelii)

This small tree blooms early in the spring, before the leaves are fully grown. The staminate (male) flowers are most visible, with bunches of pollen-covered threads hanging from the branches. The female flowers (which later develop into acorns) are very small and are located in the leaf axils.


Gambel oak leaves -- glossy dark green, with
irregular lobes


This is the most common and widespread species of oak in Utah and adjoining states. It grows on the foothills in dense thickets of small scrubby trees. The leaves are shiny dark green, with irregular rounded lobes. It is an important food source for browsing deer, but can be poisonous to livestock.


Oak leaves in autumn



In the fall the leaves turn various shades of rusty orange, tan and brown.

The species was named in honor of William Gambel, an American naturalist who died in 1849 (at the age of only 28) while attempting to cross the Sierras in winter.