Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Quercus emoryi, Emory Oak

Emory Oak has both male and female flowers. Male flowers shown here have long drooping yellow catkins. Female flowers have small spikes in the leaf axils. Quercus emoryiEmory Oak fruit are acorns which are valuable and readily eaten by deer, Javelina, turkey, squirrels, other mammals and birds including Acorn Woodpeckers, Quail and Band-tailed Pigeon. Quercus emoryi Emory Oak has green leaves which start out reddish-green as shown here in the photo. Leaves are alternate and shapes range from lanceolate, elliptical and oblong to obovate. Margins are entire, wavy-toothed and often spinescent. Mature leaves are glossy or shiny dark green or yellow green above and pale below and resemble Holly leaves somewhat. Leaves drop in spring and then new leaves appear. Quercus emoryi Emory Oak is a tree or large shrub. The species are mostly evergreen with dark brown or black bark that has deep fissures. The twigs are often dark reddish brown or grayish as shown in the photo.  Quercus emoryi Emory Oak is found in foothills, moist canyons, riparian area and slopes. The live in a variety of plant communities including pine, western hardwoods, oak woodlands, pinyon-juniper and chaparral. Emory Oak is a dominant, co dominant or sub-dominant in all community types of the pine-oak woodlands above 4,000 feet. Quercus emoryi

Scientific Name: Quercus emoryi
Common Name: Emory Oak

Also Called: Apache Oak, Bellota, Black Oak, Blackjack Oak, Desert Live Oak, Holly Oak, Roble Negro and Western Black Oak.

Family: Fagaceae, Beech Family

Synonyms: ()

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 60 feet or more. (10 - 20 m)

Growth Form: Tree, or large shrub; plants evergreen, bark dark brown to black, deep fissures, twigs dark reddish brown, pubescent, terminal bud reddish brown, trunk mostly straight, tree top a round crown.

Leaves: Green, evergreen or semi-evergreen, 1 to 3 inches long; alternate, leaf shape variable; not lobed, lanceolate, elliptical, oblong to obovate; margins entire, wavy-toothed and often spinescent leaves with petioles, leaves are glossy or shiny dark green or yellow-green above and pale below, resemble Holly leaves somewhat, leaves drop in spring and then new leaves appear.

Flower Color: Yellow, male flower with long drooping yellow catkins, females have small spikes in leaf axils; monecious; fruit is an oblong red acorn with a yellowish cap, ripens in early fall.

Flowering Season: March or April through May, fruiting from August and October.

Elevation: 3,000 feet to 8,000 feet - (914-2400 m)

Habitat Preferences: Dry foothills, moist canyons, riparian area and slopes; plant communities include pine, western hardwoods, oak woodlands, pinyon-juniper and chaparral. Emory Oak is a dominant, co dominant or sub-dominant in all community types of the pine-oak woodlands above 4,000 feet.

Recorded Range: Emory Oak is found in the southwestern United States in central AZ east into NM and western TX. It's range also extends into northern Mexico (Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila (including Parque Nacional Maderas del Carmen), Durango, Nuevo León, and San Luis Potosí). In Arizona it is found in north central, central south-central and southeastern parts of the state. In New Mexico it is found generally in the southwestern part of the state and in Texas it occurs in the far south west part of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Quercus emoryi.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 106 species for Quercus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 597 accepted species names for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States, in addition to a host of hybrids Arizona has 15 species of Quercus, California has 22 species, Nevada has 4 species, New Mexico has 17 species, Texas has 48 species, Utah has 3 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: Emory Oak plays a significant role in the flora of the southwestern United States. In addition to their importance as a keystone species, habitat and firewood, they are used in desert and upland landscaping, as the plants are drought tolerant and may grow up to 65 feet tall (20 m) with regular watering. Emory Oak has a similar leaf appearance to Arizona White Oak, Q. grisea and to Mexican Blue Oak,Q. oblongifolia. Where distributions overlap in Texas, Emory Oak hybridizes with Graceful Oak, Q. graciliformis.

The U. S. Forest Service has an excellent site with detailed information about Emory Oak on-line at: Fire Effects Information System (FEIS).

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Gambel Oak, Quercus gambelii and Sonoran Scrub Oak, Quercus turbinella.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies, Birds and Insects
Emory Oak, Quercus emoryi is a host plant for the following butterfly caterpillars: - Find out more from Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA).
  • Moth, Dicogaster coronada, Found in Arizona, larvae have been reared on Quercus oblongifolia and Q. emoryi.
  • Stone's buckmoth, Hemileuca stonei, Caterpillar Hosts: Mexican blue oak (Quercus oblongifolia) and Emory oak (Q. emoryi).
  • Dull Firetip, Apyrrothrix araxes, Caterpillar Hosts: Arizona oak (Quercus arizonica), Emory Oak (Q. emoryi),
  • Oculea silkmoth, Antheraea oculea, Caterpillar Hosts: Emory oak (Quercus emoryi), Mexican blue oak (Q. oblongifolia), Arizona black walnut (Juglans major).
  • Poling's Hairstreak, Satyrium polingi, Emory Oak provides both flower nectar and is a host plant for this endangered species whose home range is now restricted to Davis and Chisos mountains of Texas, the Organ mountains of New Mexico ("sky islands") and southward to Coahuila, Mexico. Poling's Hairstreak is Endangered throughout its range and is listed as a G2 species, "Imperiled because of rarity" possibly due to habitat loss and wildfires.
  • Importance to Wildlife
    Throughout their entire range, these native plants are important to wildlife. Their acorns are valuable and readily eaten by deer, Javelina, turkey, squirrels, other mammals and birds including Acorn Woodpeckers, Quail and Band-tailed Pigeon. They are also eaten by livestock.

    The genus "Quercus" is from Latin, meaning "oak" and the species epithet "emoryi" is named in honor of William Hemsley Emory (1811-1887), a surveyor for the United States Army who led the Mexican Survey.

    Quercus emoryi, Emory Oak has been used for food and as a cooking agent by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Apache, Western Food, Unspecified, Acorns eaten whole and raw, ground on a metate or boiled.
  • Papago Food, Candy, Acorns chewed as a confection.
  • Papago Food, Unspecified, Acorns eaten fresh from the shell.
  • Papago Food, Unspecified, Acorns used for food.
  • Yavapai Food, Cooking Agent, Ground meat used as thickening for venison stew.
  • Yavapai Food, Winter Use Food, Nuts stored for later use.

  • See complete species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 08/19/2019
    Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 08/16/2019).
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 08/16/2019).
    Pavek, Diane S. 1994. Quercus emoryi. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. - U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, - Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [2019, August 17].
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX. (accessed 08/16/2019).
    Kevin C. Nixon, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 3 | Fagaceae | Quercus 4. Quercus emoryi Torrey in W. H. Emory, Not. Milit. Reconn. 151, plate 9. 1848.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Leslie R. Landrum, 1993, Vascular Plants of Arizona Project: Fagaceae - JANAS 27(2): 203-214. 1994. (accessed 08/16/2019).
    John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Emory oak Fagaceae Quercus emoryi; on-line accessed 08/17/2019
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Quercus emoryi', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 July 2019, 10:14 UTC, [accessed 17 August 2019]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 08/16/2019).
    BAMONA; Butterflies and Moths of North America; Collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera; (accessed 09/18/2019).
    Mace Vaughan and Matthew Shepherd, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation - accessed 09/18/2019).