The gambel oak ranges throughout much of the Western region of North America
from Northern Utah, Southern Wyoming, Texas, Arizona, Northwestern Oklahoma,
Southern Nevada, and Northern Mexico. This species usually grows at 5000-8000ft.
It generally grows in mountains, foothills, plateaus, slopes and valleys surrounded
by ponderosa pines in some regions. The gambel oak often grows in dense groves.
It ranges from 20-70’ in height and around 2’ in diameter. The
leaves on the gambel oak are oblong, rounded at the tip with straight or curved
edges. The size of the leaves varies as well as the hairiness. The leaves
are dark green with a shiny on the top and a paler green with fine hairs on
the bottom. During the autumn months, the leaves change to vibrant colors
of yellow and reddish orange. During the spring and summer, the gambel oak
produces flowers. The flowers are both male and female and pollinate via the
wind. The tree also produces acorns they are usually 1 /2-3/4in. long. They
first appear on the tree as green egg shaped vessels with a thick outer shell.
The acorns develop fully by autumn and become a vibrant shade of brown. The
tree requires dry or moist soil to grow.
Uses: Non-medicinal. The seeds produced by the gambel oak have been a staple
food for Native Americans. Either the whole seed can be used of it can be
ground into a fine powder and used as a coffee substitute. The seed cups were
also once used as buttons. The leaves produce mulch that will prevent slugs
and other pest from invading plants. Humans and animals have many uses for
the gambel oak. The tree also attracts many foraging animals such as deer
and elk. It also provides shelter for smaller species like squirrels and chipmunks.
The gambel oak makes a good building material and provides an excellent source
of firewood. Medicinal uses. The gambel oak will occasionally produce galls
that contain powerful astringents. The astringents are often used to treat
hemorrhages, chronic diarrhea, and dysentery. The acorns produced by the oak
give greater sexual potency. The bark of the tree is analgesic and cathartic
often used to treat postpartum pain and to help facilitate the delivery of
Copyright 2003 Northern Arizona University.
page was authored by Meredith Fourre