Gambel Oak

Quercus gambelii

Type: Deciduous – Loses its leaves in the fall

Bark: Thick gray brown bark with deep ridges. 

Leaves: Long leaves with 5-7 lobes. Dark green on top and light green on bottom.

Height: Grow to 10-15 ft

Elevation: Found around 4,000 to 8,500 ft elevation.


Gambel oak is a tree native to North America that is often found in the foothills and mountains in the west. It avoids areas where freezing temperatures are persistent. Gambel oaks are often found on open mesas where there is ample sunlight. 

Relation to Fire
Due to their thick bark, Gambel oaks are able to survive low intensity fires. Gambel oaks are able to grow back quickly after fires kill the above ground tree.

Fun Fact

  • Many animals eat Gambel oak acorns, but if they eat too many, the acorns become toxic...
    If an animal eats more than 50% of its food as Gambel Oak acorns, it will become sick. Freezing of the acorns makes them even more toxic to animals, an issue for locations where winter freezing is common, like Colorado.