Quercus engelmannii, Engelmann oak

An iconic Californian tree of the Mediterranean-type climate, this evergreen oak offers dappled shade and the silver-green foliage forms spreading, globular canopies.

Tolerant of a dry climate it possesses small, leathery leaves, a short trunk to 1.2m diameter and grey-brown bark patterned into striate platelets.

This tree also is good for-

  • dry, hot soils, but grows better in moister profiles
  • drought hardy to around 375mm p.a. and can become drought-deciduous if needed
  • all-year shade, this tree is evergreen and sheds leaves and replaces them in early spring
  • frost hardy to -14C
  • leaves are usually mute green-blue, wavy, elliptical, variable
  • offers all year, wind breaking to 15m
  • wood, dark brown and strong, is first rate fuel, and used for post but not for sawing as it splits
  • has a spreading, loose form with long, angular branches low to the ground

This is one of the best all-purpose farm trees for Southern Australia given its wide tolerance soil type, temperature and moisture levels. So too, the leaf fall forms a pleasant smooth duff of litter, great for stock camps and humus production. Engelmann oak is wind firm and doesn’t drop hard fines and will tolerate fire but not spread it.

Often it grows up to 350 years, so acts as a very long carbon store, harbouring around 2 tonnes of C02 in an average specimen.

Given it once grew throughout SW N America in prehistoric times, it is a species related to subtropical, Mexican savanna oaks. In California it grows on basalt caps, gravelly or rocky soils with subterranean moisture or deeper, loamy clays from 375mm or more of rainfall p.a.


Tree shape

Spreading and rounded

Mature size

Medium 8-12m

Growth rate



Shade, carbon store, firewood, ornamental, windbeak

Soil type

All soils, good in loamy clays


Drought hardy


oblong-elliptic 2-5cm