Canyon Live Oak is a medium size evergreen nut tree, native to the west coast.
Its acorns are among the largest of any Quercus species, and were a staple food source for 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 rich in complex carbohydrates, minerals, oils, fiber, and vitamins, and are lower in fat than most other nuts.
The Canyon Live Oak is particularly attractive in the home landscape. Its evergreen leaves have shiny, green tops and pale blue/gray bottoms, keeping color in your yard all Winter long. The bark is smooth and white when young, aging into a wizened, checkered gray. Beautiful!
Environment and Culture
Canyon Live Oaks grow in marginal soils across the southwest and provide an important source of food and shelter for many animal species.
Harvest and Preparation
The Canyon Live 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 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, NV, NM
USDA zones: 3-11
Ease of Care: Very High
Deer Resistance: Moderate
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Soil Type: Tolerates a wide range of soil types
Water Requirements: Drought tolerant, can handle wet, after establishment it will tolerate drying out in the summer
Pollination: Self Fertile
Bearing Age: 8+ years from seed, 5+ years from pot