Quercus vacciniifolia

huckleberry oak


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Hamamelididae. Order - Fagales. Family - Fagaceae. (beech). Genus Quercus L. (oak) Species - Quercus vacciniifolia Kellogg (huckleberry oak).

Ecology: Huckleberry oak is a native, drought-resistant, evergreen, erect to prostrate, spreading shrub. It grows from 0.6-1.2 m high. Branches are slender and flexible, with smooth bark. Leaves are sclerophyllous [leathery] and brittle.
Huckleberry oak is an edaphic or fire-climax species on some sites . In the absence of fire and under favorable soil conditions, huckleberry oak is facultative seral to coniferous species.
Huckleberry oak is found on xeric sites such as dry, windy ridges from 305-3,049 m in elevation. Huckleberry oak affords excellent erosion control on steep slopes of watersheds. Nursery seedlings have been planted in the Lake Tahoe Basin as a part of a project to control erosion and reduce sediment entering Lake Tahoe.


Shrub < 1.5 m, prostrate to spreading, evergreen; twigs slender, pliable, glabrous. Leaf: 1.5--4 cm; petiole 3--6 mm; blade +- oblong, adaxially glabrous, green, abaxially glabrous, dull, pale green, tip obtuse to acute, margin entire to mucro-toothed. Fruit: cup 10--12 mm wide, 4--6 mm deep, thin, generally cup-shaped, scales +- tubercled to not; nut 10--15 mm, ovoid to +- spheric, distally obtuse to rounded; shell thin, subglabrous to sparsely tomentose inside; mature in year 2.


Fire effects: This shrub has resinous, flammable leaves. Its low, spreading growth form encourages surface fire, especially in dense, even-aged stands with considerable horizontal continuity. Huckleberry oak in the subcanopy layer of coniferous forests often acts as a ladder fuel, resulting in crown fire. Huckleberry oak is top-killed by fire. Huckleberry oak has adapted to fire by sprouting from the root crown.


Huckleberry oak hybridizes with canyon live oak (Q. chrysolepis).

Seed Production - Huckleberry oak is wind pollinated. Acorns mature in 1 year.. Acorns are from 1.0-1.5 cm long.

Vegetative Regeneration - Huckleberry oak sprouts from the root crown following damage to aboveground portions of the plant. It also reproduces by layering.

Species Distribution


USDA Plant Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 4 February 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds.  1993+.  Flora of North America North of Mexico.  19+ vols.  New York and Oxford.

Intermountain Herbarium
Consortium of Intermountain Herbaria. 2016. http//:intermountainbiota.org/portal/index.php. Accessed on February 04.

Jepson Manual
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. $131.95, hardcover; 1600 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0520253124.