Canyon Live Oak – Quercus chrysolepis
Other Names: Canyon Oak, Golden Cup Oak, Goldcup Oak, Maul Oak, xanpúttin (Karok).
Distinctive Characteristics: This evergreen oak can be distinguished from other oaks in its region by the fine, yellow, fuzzy hairs on the underside of the leaves, which may be toothed or smooth on the same tree, and the golden velvety inside of the thick, shallow, warty, bowl-shaped acorn caps.
Distribution: Native to southern Oregon and California, along the northern coast ranges, in southern California, (including the Channel Islands) and the Sierra Nevada range, with small, scattered patches in Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. It is the most widely dispersed of all California oaks. Elevation: between 1,640–5,000 ft. (500–1,500 m) in southwestern Oregon; 330–4,500 ft. (100–1400 m) in northern California; and up to approximately 9000 ft. (2,700 m) in southern California.
Ecosystem: Canyon Live Oak occurs in pure stands, as the dominant tree species or as part of variable plant communities such as mixed evergreen forest, riparian hardwood forest, and oak woodlands, on steep canyon slopes and bottoms, ridge tops, riparian areas, or flat areas with Interior Live Oaks, Oregon White Oak, Blue Oak, Pacific Madrone, California Bay Laurel, Big Cone Douglas Fir, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Jeffry Pine, Sugar Pine, Coulter Pine, California Buckeye, manzanita, and Huckleberry Oak.
Maximum Age: 300 years.
Maximum Height and Girth: 110 ft. (33 m) in height; 31 ft. (9.4 m) in circumference.
Animal Community: Canyon Live Oak provides habitat for perching, nesting, foraging sites, shade, and cover for numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Acorns are consumed by a variety of mammal species, such as California ground squirrels, dusky-footed wood rats, western grey squirrels, western harvest mice, red tree voles, deer mice, white-footed mice, pinyon mice, California pocket mice, broad-footed mice, cactus mice, black-tailed jackrabbits, beaver, brush rabbits, red-backed voles, Sonoma chipmunks, California voles, porcupines, pocket gophers, black-tailed deer, and black bear, as well as birds such as western scrub jays, Steller's jays, band-tailed pigeons, wild turkeys, mountain quail, and crows. Other bird species inhabit and forage in Canyon Live Oak woodlands, such as California spotted owl, Nuttall's woodpeckers, acorn woodpeckers, ravens, white-breasted nuthatches, oak titmice, black-headed grosbeaks, and Baltimore orioles. Many reptiles and also use the tree for habitat, including San Bernardino Mountain kingsnakes, Gilbert's skinks, western fence lizards, and southern alligator lizards, as well as amphibians such as San Gabriel Mountain slender salamanders, yellow-blotched salamanders, large-blotched salamanders, black-bellied slender salamanders, California slender salamanders, and foothill yellow-legged frogs. While the tree is utilized by countless invertebrate species, it is a specific host for insects such as the moth Neocrania bifasciata, and butterflies such as the California sisters, golden hairstreaks, Propertius duskywings, mournful dusky-wings, and gold-hunter's hairstreaks.
Medicine: A poultice of the acorn flour or ashes from the bark was used to treat burns (Karuk).
Food: Many tribes ate the acorns as a food staple.
Modern Uses: Early settlers used the wood for fuel and for making farm implements, mauls, boats, carriages, wagons and furniture. It has also been used more recently for wall paneling.
Threats and Conservation: This oak is susceptible to the disease sudden oak death (caused by Phytophthora ramorum), but its status is not threatened.