Oregon White Oak is a large, deciduous nut tree native to the West Coast. Its edible acorns are a native food sweeter than other local species, and 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 for breads, pastries and more. Acorns are rich in complex carbohydrates, minerals, oils, fiber, and vitamins, and are lower in fat than most other nuts.
Oregon White Oak is a majestic, spreading shade tree with characteristic wavy, glossy-green leaves. Its thickly furrowed bark, rounded crown and intricate branching structure adds interest to Winter landscapes. Wildflowers, like Great Camas, are a beautiful companion to this stately tree.
Environment and Culture
Oregon White Oak is the keystone species of “Oak Savanna” habitat - a critically endangered, diverse ecology in North America (less than .5% of the original Oak Savanna remains). They are extremely resilient and long-lived, have a wide native range, and produce thousands of pounds of protein-rich acorns in their lifetime - making them a key species for ecological restoration and truly regional sustainable agriculture. Mature trees provide food and habitat for countless species, from song birds to squirrels to deer. In the wild, California Hazelnut, Serviceberry, Blackcap Raspberry, Great Camas, Dwarf Checkermallow, Blue Wild Rye, and many more, can be found below their graceful canopies.
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Oregon White 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, WA, BC
USDA zones: 6-9
Ease of Care: Very High
Deer Resistance: Moderate
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Soil Type: All, prefers well-drained
Water Requirements: Drought tolerant, can handle wet, as long as it dries out in the Summers
Bearing Age: 8+ years from seed, 5+ years from pot