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Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii)

Natural History

Gambel Oak is a member of the Beech Family. It appears as a shrub or tree and can grow to 50 feet in height. Leaves are dark green with smooth tops and fine hairs on the bottom. They have 7 - 11 rounded lobes and grow to 6 inches in length. The trunk of the tree grows to 2.5 feet in diameter and has thick, gray bark with deep furrows or scales. The tree typically grows on mountains and plateaus in ponderosa forests at elevations between 5000 - 8000 feet.

Native Americans used the wood of the Gambel Oak for ax handles and tools, while the leafy branches were used in the construction of ramadas for shade. The acorns of the tree are less bitter than those of other oaks and were eaten raw, roasted or as ground meal in stews or cakes.

Gambel Oak blooms in the spring and produces very tiny, inconspicuous flowers. Acorns are eaten by birds and mammals.

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