Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Quercus garryana var. garryana (Garry Oak, Oregon White Oak)



 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons






 Fagaceae Beech family


 Quercus L. oak


 Quercus garryana Douglas ex Hook. Oregon white oak


 Quercus garryana Douglas ex Hook. var. garryana Oregon white oak

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

Garry Oak captures the charm of western Oregon. Centuries of cold winters, hot dry summers, winds and rain shape this nostalgic tree.

The twisted and gnarled branches hold the mysteries of time past - the perfect oak for the northwest, but increasingly rare in the wild.

They are found on dry hillsides along the coast from BC to California and inland to the Sierra Nevada in USDA zones 6-9.

They prefer full sun and tolerate drought and harsh winds.

Growing slowly to 90,' Garry Oaks can live for 500 years.

Their leathery dark green leaves, 3 - 6," turn brown in the fall. The leaves are very high in nutrients (especially phosphorous) and make exceptional mulch.

Nature is so amazing!

I was driving my beloved country roads a week or so ago and as I went around a corner I looked up and saw this vignette in a big old Garry Oak (Quercus garryana).

The leaves of green and bronze, the thick luxurious texture of the moss contrasting with the lichen begged me to reach up and run my fingers over it's surface.

Fortunately I came to my senses before I attempted to climb that old tree. It would not have been very appropriate in my business attire. But I had to take it's picture to share with you.


From Homepage July 7, 2005

Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) is one of the most majestic of northwest native trees. To stand beneath the cathedral of leaves and wonder at the strength of those arms is to know true artistry. Imagine, then, seeing that same oak from the skies above! The crowning canopy is now a bit of lace, the branches but a dark curlique: a part of the intricate design.

These unique photos were taken from the window of a plane as it flew down the Willamette Valley, following a path that was once a stand of Garry Oaks. The Oaks are now mostly gone, cut down to make way for pasture land and corn fields and houses.


In one shot we see two oaks that were spared the woodcutter's axe. They were probably just little saplings at the time the land was cleared and overlooked. Or perhaps the farmer who used this field gave leeway to a fit of serendipity, allowing these two to grow in memory of their hundreds of ancestors that were put to other uses--firewood or tables and chairs. The other photo shows the remaining remnant of the original oak grove.

Try as I might, I couldn't get one

full shot of this tree so I took two.

From Homepage August 22, 2002

What could be more noble than the oak tree? Our northwest native Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) is also called Oregon White Oak, Garry's Oak, or Post Oak. Beloved for centuries, honored in music and poetry, the mysterious beauty of the gnarled branches, the leathery green of the leaves and the magnificent spreading shape like mother nature's welcoming arms is the stuff of which legends are borne. It is said that to carry an acorn will help preserve youth.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson in Idylls of the King, Merlin and Vivien:

A storm was coming, but the winds were still,

And in the wild woods of Broceliande,

Before an oak, so hollow, huge and old

It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,

At Merlin's feet the wily Vivien lay.

John Keats, On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again:

. . .When through the old oak forest I am gone,

Let me not wander in a barren dream,

But when I am consumed in the fire,

Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

William Blake, from The Echoing Green:

Old John, with white hair,

Does laugh away care,

Sitting under the oak,

Among the old folk.


They laugh at our play,

And soon they all say,

'Such, such were the joys

When we all--girls and boys -

In our youth-time were seen

On the echoing green.'

And who can forget Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems, The Arrow and the Song:

I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For, so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;


For who has sight so keen and strong,

That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak

I found the arrow, still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.


Photo at left by Walter Siegmund

From Igor Stravinsky's Concerto in E-Flat for Chamber Orchestra "Dumbarton Oaks" to Les Paul and Mary Ford bringing to exquisite life Cinco Robles (Five Oaks) or the Celtic tones of Three Oaks, in more modern times musical homage to the mighty oak is noted so casually in "Up a lazy river" as we "linger in the shade of an old oak tree."

Original peoples called this tree sacred to the god of thunder. When the white man came to the northwest, some groves of oaks were said to be like parks. Many of these groves are still to be seen throughout the northwestern United States and into Canada.

Our northwest native Garry Oak is so accommodating to it's neighbors in the grove, the branches often intertwine to better share the sun. But the oak that stands alone spreads it's branches wide as if in the sheer exuberance of living. Ah, what lessons we could take from the noble oak tree.

Photos We Share!

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