Quercus agrifolia Née var. oxyadenia (Torrey) J. Howell

Southern Coast Live Oak
Fagaceae (Oak Family)


Southern coast live oak is by far the least common of the two varieties of Quercus agrifolia. It is a wide-topped evergreen tree that can grow as tall as 75' with bark that is smooth but becomes dark gray and ridged or furrowed in age. The leaves are oval to oblong or elliptic, usually cupped, dull to ± shiny green in color and weakly spinose-
margined. It is the undersurface that characteristically distinguishes var. oxyadenia from var. agrifolia. While the more common coast live oak has leaves that are mostly glabrous below with tufts of golden-brown hairs in the vein axils and may have scattered hairs elsewhere, this variant has leaves that are densely tomentose with felty stellate hairs covering the entire lower surface. The slender staminate catkins droop or spread from the lower axils of the current year's growth and are from 1" to 2-1/2" long, and the pistillate flowers are short-stalked and solitary in many-bracted invol-
ucres in the upper axils. The male flowers typically have a 4-6-lobed calyx and 5-12 stamens, while the female flowers have an urn-shaped calyx with three short styles. The acorn matures in a single year. The cup is brown, obconic, 3/8" to 5/8" wide, 1/4" to 5/8" deep, with thin, ± flat, ± glabrous scales, and is woolly inside. The slender ovoid nut is about 1"-1-3/8" long and has a pointed tip. Southern coast live oak occupies generally granitic soils from 2000' to 4500' in interior cismontane Riverside and San Diego Counties, blooming from March to April.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Quercus 2) agrifolia 3) oxyadenia.
Pronunciation: KWER-kus ag-ri-FO-lee-a ox-ee-a-DEEN-ee-a.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.


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