California Black Oak is a large, deciduous nut tree native to the West Coast. Its large edible acorns were a staple food-source of Native Americans. Once leached, they have a mild potato-like flavor, and can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into a gluten-free baking flour. Acorns are a native food rich in complex carbohydrates, minerals, oils, fiber, and vitamins, and are lower in fat than most other nuts.
California Black Oak is the largest mountain oak in the west. Their beautiful bright green leaves are distinctly six-lobed and the bark is dark and covered with small plates making them an interesting and stately addition to any landscape.
Environment and Culture
The California Black Oak is a crucial wildlife support species, they provide food and shelter to a multitude of animals. They grow in a wide range of habitats including mixed evergreen forests, oak savannas and coniferous forests.
California Black Oak is slow growing, but strong and sturdy. The tree doesn’t require any pruning, but can be formed at an early age for aesthetics or, for example, to prevent bad crotch angles for future snowloads. It can grow in wet or dry climates, but likes to dry out during the Summer (except during the first few years of establishment). It is very self-sufficient.
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Harvest acorns green off the tree in September or right as they fall - before the squirrels and rodents get them. Acorns require leaching of tannins to become palatable; one can boil them, run water over them, or leave them in a bag in a stream, as the Native Americans did. Acorns intended for replanting need to be stratified for 90 days. See our recipes for more detailed information.
Native Range: CA, OR
USDA zones: 5-10
Ease of Care: Very High
Deer Resistance: Moderate
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Soil Type: Will tolerate most soil types but prefers well drained soils
Water Requirements: Drought tolerant, can handle wet, after establishment it will tolerate drying out in the summer
Bearing Age: 8+ years from seed, 5+ years from pot