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Oregon White Oak: cherished by human and butterfly alike

By Lindsay Willrick | January 29, 2016

Oregon white oak trees

This majestic tree has a native range extending from Vancouver Island in Canada south to the mountains just north of Los Angeles, California. Locally, it’s considered to be Oregon’s hallmark oak. While driving the back roads of the Willamette Valley you will see these giants dotting the fields and pastures with their spreading canopies and classically lobed deep green leaves. Although Oregon white oak can reach a height of 100 feet, these trees are able to fit into smaller landscape settings when provided the right conditions, occasionally taking on a shrubby growth habit. This oak prefers well-drained soils in a sunny location where it will not receive summer watering. Deciduous leaves will turn yellow-brown in the fall, providing ample leaf piles for jumping in and that reminiscent crunch under your feet when walking the dog.

There are many reasons to love this mighty oak, it provides forage and shelter for wildlife, nesting materials for birds, attracts pollinators, and acts as a host plant for numerous species of butterflies. The California sister, Propertius duskywing, mournful duskywing, golden hairstreak, and gold-hunter’s hairstreak butterflies are known to use this oak species as a larval host plant. These butterflies use the oak to complete their early and most vulnerable stages of their life cycle, while adults may use the oak for shelter and perching while looking for mates. Help your landscape be a backyard haven for wildlife large and small, plant an Oregon white oak and do your part to combat the extinction of oak woodlands, over 95% of which have vanished over the past couple centuries. For more information about the importance of oak habitats, view our oak woodland habitat description here.

Oregon white oak leaves

 

About the Author

Lindsay Willrick

Lindsay Willrick is a botanist and wildlife biologist with a passion for native habitat conservation and restoration. She is truly a bird nerd at heart, budding entomologist, and loves volunteering within her local community.

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