Overview

Brief Summary

Fagaceae -- Beech family

    John C. Tappeiner, II, Philip M. McDonald, Douglass F. Roy

    Tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), also called tanbark-oak,  is an evergreen hardwood that, with other species in the genus,  is considered a link between the chestnut, Castanea, and  the oak, Quercus (19). Tanoak has flowers like the  chestnut and acorns like the oak. This medium-sized tree grows  best on the humid moist slopes of the seaward coastal ranges. It  usually occurs in a complex mixture with conifers and other  hardwoods, but often forms pure even-aged stands. The wood is  hard, strong, and fine-grained. Tanoak is designated a commercial  species in California. Current major uses are for fuel and pulp.  The acorns are a valuable food source for many kinds of wildlife.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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Comprehensive Description

Description

General: Oak family (Fagaceae). Tanoak is an evergreen hardwood tree or shrub native to the west coast ranges from Southern Oregon to Southern California. The plants can reach 20 to 45 meters in height with the stems of large trees reaching up to 1 meter in diameter. The form and size of tanoak is variable depending on the environment. Taller forms generally occur in shady forests and shorter forms in open areas where sunlight is more abundant. However, the trees can have a shrub-like form with multiple stems when access to light is prevented, such as when growing in a dense forest understory. Mature trees growing in a more open forest have a single, short trunk with horizontal branches.

The thick, leathery evergreen leaves are oblong in shape with pointed tips (4 to 10 cm long). The leaves have noticeable parallel side veins on the undersides that are evenly spaced and run from the central vein of the leaf ending in a pointy tooth at the leaf margin. New leaves are covered with reddish-brown hairs, which turns whitish as they mature. Older leaves are a smooth green on top with lightly pubescent gray-green below. The evergreen leaves remain on the tree about 3 to 4 years before they are shed. The light reddish-brown bark develops deep fissures as the trees age. Large clusters of tiny white flowers bloom in the summer months in the leaf axils of the current seasons growth. The flowers are erect catkins and have an odor that is not pleasant. The acorns are from 2.5 to 5 cm long with a diameter of about 1.5 to 1.8 cm and grow singly or in cluster. Tanoak acorns have hairy, rather than scaly caps of the true oak. Acorns ripen in the fall of the second season.

Distribution: Tanoak occurs on fertile mountain slopes and ridges below 1200 meters in the Coast Ranges from the Santa Inez Mountains in Southern California, to the Cascade Ranges in Southwestern Oregon. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: The tree form is a major part of the coastal redwood forest, Douglas fir forest, and mixed evergreen forest while the shrub form is a component of chaparral communities.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Tan oak, tan bark oak

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Distribution

A disjunct stand slightly north of the Umpqua River in  southwestern Oregon has been reported as the northernmost limit  of tanoak's natural range. The general northern limit of tanoak  in the Coast Ranges, however, is farther south in the Coquille  River drainage. Its eastern limit in Oregon extends from west of  Roseburg to Grants Pass, and then southwesterly into the  Applegate River drainage. Tanoak's range stretches southward  through the Coast Ranges in California to the Santa Ynez  Mountains north and east of Santa Barbara, CA. The range also  extends northeastward from the Humboldt Bay region to the lower  slopes of Mount Shasta, then intermittently southward along the  western slopes of the Sierra Nevada as far as Mariposa County  (7). In the Sierra Nevada, tanoak is most common between the  Feather and American Rivers.

   
  -The native range of tanoak.


  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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Adaptation

Tanoak is adapted to cool coastal areas with mild temperatures and little summer rainfall. The plants do not do well in interior valleys and areas of extreme temperatures. Tanoaks grow best in deep, fertile soils but are also known to grow well on stony or shallow soils. The trees prefer well-drained loam to gravelly soils.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs or trees , to 20(-45) m. Bark gray or brown, smooth or deeply furrowed. Twigs densely yellowish tomentose. Leaf blade adaxially convex, to 60-120 mm, leathery to brittle, margins often revolute, regularly toothed, teeth prominent to obscure; surfaces abaxially prominently and densely woolly, often glabrate at maturity, revealing gray or bluish green waxy surface, veins often distally impressed. Fruits: cup scales subulate, spreading to strongly recurved, hooked; nut yellowish brown, globose to cylindric-tapered, to 15-35 mm, extremely hard, densely tomentose, eventually glabrate.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Quercus densiflora Hooker & Arnott, Bot. Beechey Voy., 391. 1841
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Var. densiflorus (generally trees) in mixed evergreen forest and redwood forest; var. echinoides (shrubs) in open conifer forest, margins of woods, and on dry slopes (FNA 1997).

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© NatureServe

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Soils and Topography

Tanoak grows well on a variety of soils developed from igneous,  metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks, or sedimentary rock alluvium.  It grows best on soils that are deep, well-drained, and loamy,  sandy, or gravelly. Tanoak also grows on soils derived from  serpentine, which are intermediate between the moist and dry  extremes, but is limited to a shrubby form. It is seldom found on  heavy clayey soils.

    High-site soils for redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) or  Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), such as the Hugo,  Sheetiron, Josephine, Empire, Larabee, Sites, and Melbourne (12)  series, are also well suited for the growth of tanoak (28). These  soils have been derived from either consolidated or soft  sedimentary rocks. They are light grayish brown or light reddish  brown to brown in color and are moderately to strongly acidic.  Soil textures grade through gravelly loam, sand loam, fine sandy  loam, loam, silt loam, to clay loam. Soil orders are mostly  Inceptisols and Alfisols.

    Besides growing well on deep soils, tanoak also thrives on stony  and shallow soils that are less suitable for conifers. Yet tanoak  requires more moisture than many other hardwoods. It will grow  well on the shallow and stony soils of north slopes, for example,  but will be supplanted by Pacific madrone (Arbutus  menziesii), Oregon white oak Quercus garryana), or  California black oak (Q. kelloggii) on the warmer, drier  south slopes.

    Throughout the Coast Ranges from the northern limit of tanoak's  distribution (lat. 43° 42° N.) to the Santa Lucia  Mountains (lat. 35° 40°N.) tanoak grows from sea level  to elevations of 1220 or 1525 in (4,000 or 5,000 ft). The terrain  is rough, steep, and extremely dissected by both major streams  and smaller drainages. In the Santa Ynez Mountains, at the  southern limit of its range (lat. 34° 34° N.), tanoak  grows at 730 to 1435 in (2,400 to 4,700 ft). In the northern  Sierra Nevada, it grows between elevations of 580 and 1220 in  (1,900 and 4,000 ft) and in the central Sierra Nevada between 915  and 1525 m (3,000 and 5,000 ft). At its southern limit in the  Sierra Nevada, tanoak is found between 1525 to 1980 in (5,000 and  6,500 ft) near Signal Peak (lat. 37° 32° N.) in the  Sierra National Forest (24).

    Tanoak is most abundant and, in general, attains its largest sizes  in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, CA, between elevations of 150  to 915 in (500 to 3,000 ft) on northerly and easterly slopes and  toward the summits of the seaward exposures of the Coast Ranges.  In the southern Coast Ranges, tanoak is common in the Santa Cruz  and Santa Lucia Mountains, particularly on the westerly slopes.  And in the central Sierra Nevada, where the climate is less  humid, it grows in valleys, coves, ravines, along streams, and on  north slopes.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

Tanoak grows in a climate broadly classified as humid. Annual  precipitation, however, is seasonal and varies from 1020 to 2540  min (40 to 100 in). Some precipitation is snow. Summer and early  fall are dry and the winter rainy. From June through September  rainfall totals less than 25 min (1 in) a month. In fact,  precipitation during these months amounts to only 5 percent of  the year's total. Most of the precipitation-about 70  percent-falls between November and February.

    Average mean daily temperatures range from 2° to 6° C  (36° to 42° F) during January and 16° to 23°  C (60° to 74° F) in July. The season free of killing  frosts begins between March 8 and April 30 and ends between  October 20 and November 20, varying in length between 160 and 249  days. Over a 30-year period the maximum temperature recorded at  183 in (600 ft) elevation in the center of tanoak's area of  maximum development was 45° C (113° F).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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Dispersal

Establishment

The Kashaya Pomo name for tanoak means “beautiful tree” (Goodrich et al. 1990). Tanoak is an attractive tree that is shade tolerant.

Tanoak can be easily propagated by seed. Use only fresh seeds, as the seeds do not retain viablity. The seeds of tanoak require no pretreatment and germinate quickly. Tanoak acorns germinate faster if they are planted with their point facing upward in the soil (McMurray 1989). The seeds may be directly sown into the ground or planted into flats or pots using a light soil mixture or peat moss. If flats are used it is necessary to transfer the seeds into pots or the ground once they have germinated. Pots should be of the kind that are long and deep to allow for the taproot to develop. Set the seeds or seedlings into a carefully chosen spot keeping in mind that they can be long lived, with an average age of about 180 years and a maximum to 400 years. Seedlings do best in a moist area with partial shade. Do not plant in areas with frequent irrigation. Give seedlings an occasional deep watering until established.

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Associations

Associated Forest Cover

Tanoak grows within the life zones classified as the Canadian and  Transition. It is the most abundant hardwood species in timber  stands of the Coast Ranges of California (6) and southwestern  Oregon. Tanoak is a common component in the following forest  cover types (4): Redwood (Society of American Foresters Type  232), Pacific Ponderosa Pine (Type 245), Pacific Ponderosa  Pine-Douglas-Fir (Type 244), Sierra Nevada Mixed Conifer (Type  243), and California Coast Live Oak (Type 255). It is a  particularly important component of Pacific Douglas-Fir (Type  229) and Douglas-Fir-Tanoak-Pacific Madrone (Type 234).

    The principal body of tanoak is a broad band along the inland side  of the redwood belt. Here tanoak sometimes forms almost pure  stands (6). More often it is an understory tree with Douglas-fir  or is a component of hardwood stands or mixed hardwood-conifer  forests. The most common hardwood associated with tanoak is  Pacific madrone. Other frequent hardwood associates include giant  chinkapin (Castanopsis chrysophylla), canyon live oak  (Quercus chrysolepis), California black oak Q.  kelloggii), and California-laurel (Umbellularia  californica). Tanoak is found most often with Douglas-fir and  redwood. Other common conifer associates are California white fir  (Abies concolor var. lowiana), Sitka spruce (Picea  sitchensis), sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), ponderosa  pine (P. ponderosa var. ponderosa), California  torreya (nutmeg) (Torreya californica), and western  hemlock (Tsuga heterophyl1a).

    A large variety of shrubs, forbs, grasses, sedges, and ferns are  also associated with tanoak. Generally these plants are not  abundant on forested land, but, with tanoak sprouts, often become  aggressive on burned or cutover areas. Among the most common  shrubs are blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus), California  hazel (Corylus cornuta var. californica), salal  (Gaultheria shallon), Pacific bayberry (Myrica  californica), Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron  macrophyllum), flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), thimbleberry  (Rubus parviflorus), western poison-oak (Toxicodendron  diversilobum), and California huckleberry (Vaccinium  ovatum).

    Two smaller plants producing woody growth above ground are  prince's-pine (Chimaphila umbellata var. occidentalisand Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa). Many forbs and  grasses are plentiful in the tanoak range. Among the most  important forbs are bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), New  Zealand fireweed (Erechtites arguta), Australian fireweed  (E. minima), and western whipplea (Whipplea modesta).  Common grass species include California brome (Bromus  carinatus), soft chess (B. mollis), California fescue  (Festuca californica), and California sweetgrass (Hierochloe  occidentalis). Western swordfern (Polystichum munitumand western bracken (Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescenssometimes grow abundantly with tanoak. Sedges (Carex  spp.) also are represented in some places.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Fire is the principal enemy of individual  tanoak trees (3). Ground fires, as well as crown fires, are  sometimes fatal. More often, however, fires leave long vertical  wounds reaching from 1.2 to 3.0 in (4 to 10 ft) up the trunks.  Although the bark of mature trees is at least 3 to 8 cm (I to 3  in), and occasionally 10 or 13 cm (4 or 5 in) thick, some trees  are burned badly.

    Fire injuries to small trees often heal over, but fungi usually  enter the wounds on older trees. The exposed wood on these larger  trees rots and the wounds do not heal. If decayed wood catches  fire it burns readily and the original wound is enlarged.  Sometimes one-third to one-half the diameter of the tree is  destroyed as a result of repeated fires and decay.

    Until injured by fire, tanoak is relatively free from insect  attacks and fungal diseases and is windfirm (3). Injury to the  trunk, however, allows fungi to enter. Wind and heavy snows  eventually fell many trees originally injured by fire and  subsequently weakened by decay.

    Fire and fungi cause tanoak to be fairly defective. One study  based upon cubic volume in 90 trees showed that the amounts of  saw log cull were 39 percent in cull trees, 8 percent in noncull  trees, and 13 percent in all trees.

    Fungi found in living trees are the beefsteak fungus  (Fistulina hepatica), which causes a brown cubical rot; the  weeping conk (Inonotus dryadeus), a white root rot; and a  necrophyte (Schizophyllum commune), which causes a sap  rot on injured areas of standing trees. Tanoak is susceptible to  the shoestring root disease (Armillaria mellea). The  fungus Ceuthocarpum conflictum causes a commonly seen  leafspot on tanoak (10).

    Several insects have been found feeding on tanoak but, generally,  the damage is not economically significant. Two of these are  armored scales identified as the greedy scale (Hemiberlesia  rapax) and the oak scale (Quernaspis quercus). The  greedy scale chiefly infests the bark but also feeds on leaves.  The oak scale feeds on the undersides of leaves. Another insect,  the crown whitefly (Aleuroplatus coronatus), resembles  soft unarmored scales and feeds on the undersides of leaves,  sometimes causing the leaves to fall prematurely. Ehrhorn's oak  scale (Mycetococcus ehrhorni) is found on stems and the  white sage mealybug (Pseudococcus crawi) on stems and  leaves (5).

    In 1957, the California oakworm (Phryganidia californica) completely  destroyed that year's foliage of tanoaks growing on Hennessey  Ridge, near Salyer, Trinity County, CA. This damage was localized  and was not observed at other places nearby. Usually, the  California oakworm causes little damage but irregularly becomes  epidemic over large areas.

    Other insects work under the bark. Adults of the Pacific oak twig  girdler, Agrilus angelicus, feed on foliage, but its  larvae mine spiral galleries that girdle twigs, small limbs and  trunks, or sprouts. Adults of a false powderpost beetle (Mela1gus  confertus) prune twigs by boring at the fork of small  branches (5).

    Decline of tanoak sprout vigor was observed in mixed  conifer-hardwood forests in the central Sierra Nevada (18).  Affected clumps were wider and denser, but only one-fifth as tall  as unaffected clumps. Reason for the decline is not known.

    Tanoak is avoided by livestock if better feed is available. Mule  deer rarely browse it. The current year's growth of tanoak leaves  and twigs is protected by abundant stellate trichomes, which are  unpleasant to inhale.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Reaction to Competition

Tanoak generally is classed as  tolerant of shade (22). It is aggressive and well fitted by its  reproductive habits, vigor, and shade endurance to compete for  possession of the ground (31). Although tanoak can endure  considerable shade throughout life, it grows best with top light.  In conifer stands where it has an equal opportunity to grow, it  can compete with redwood and Douglas-fir (23). In dense stands,  natural pruning produces long clear boles.

    Tanoak can reproduce from both seed and sprouts and thus maintain  itself in a wide range of forest types and successional stages.  Under dense conifer stands it is often abundant (610 to 5300  stems/per hectare; 240 to 2,100/acre) (29), and continuous input  of new seedlings can maintain or increase stocking (13). After  the overstory is logged or burned, even small tanoaks can  respond, and tanoaks of all sizes may dominate disturbed areas.  Because of its ability to respond to disturbance and to reproduce  and grow in the shade, it is considered to be a climax species in  Douglas-fir, redwood, and mixed-conifer forests.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

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Rooting Habit

Tanoaks develop deep taproots (22) and also  develop intricate systems of lateral roots which may approach the  soil surface and grow downhill, eventually emerging from the soil  where they form burls that produce sprouts.

    The sapwood of tanoak is extremely thick, reaching a high of 66  percent even on large trees. This condition helps trees to live  after the bark has been stripped for tannin production or after  trees have been girdled for eradication. Some girdled trees have  lived as long as 30 years.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Tanoak reproduces prolifically by  vigorous sprouts that appear at practically any time under a wide  variety of conditions (3). Sprouts may start to grow after a  relatively minor basal injury, after bark has been stripped from  the trees for tannin extraction, or when the aerial parts of the  tree are destroyed by fire or logging (22). Even healthy trees  sometimes sprout.

    Sprouts develop from conical woody buds that lie under the bark at  the base of the tree. Most of these buds are found on burls below  the groundline. Because the number of buds varies from few to  thousands, the number of sprouts also varies. As many as 1,400  have been counted on one large stump. The only mechanical damage  that prevents sprouting is stripping the bark below the ground  level to expose the buds.

    Sprouts from burls grow rapidly in a wide range of environments.  In clearcuts, they have reached 1.7 m (5.6 ft) the first year and  4.1 m (13.6 ft) after 5 years. The microclimate within sprout  clumps is quite different from the microclimate immediately  adjoining them (21). Sprout growth is reduced somewhat by a  conifer overstory (13). The size of parent trees between 3 and 43  cm (1.3 and 16.8 in) in d.b.h. determined the height and diameter  growth of sprout clumps, and the number of sprouts in a clump.  The larger parent trees produced greater sprout development.  Sprouts are reduced drastically in numbers early in their life  and growth is concentrated on the dominant stems. In the first 15  or 20 years, sprouts grow an average of about 0.6 m (2 ft) in  height a year. Often, a circle of four to eight slender  30-year-old poles grows around the stump of a parent tree. These  poles may average 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in) in d.b.h. (24).  Thinning all but 2 to 4 sprouts per clump of 3 to 10-year-old  sprout clumps did not increase height or diameter growth of the  remaining sprouts, largely because rapidly growing new sprouts  quickly replaced those that had been cut (14).

    Leaf area, total above-ground biomass, height, clump width and  area, and number of stems 1 to 6 years after cutting were  statistically correlated with parent tree diameter at 1.4 in (4.5  ft) before cutting or burning (9). Thus, sprout clump size and  total stand cover can be predicted from stand stocking tables  before harvesting or burning either conifer stands with a tanoak  understory or pure tanoak stands (30).

    Although not growing as fast as sprouts of some associated  hardwoods, such as bigleaf maple and madrone, tanoak sprouts are  significant competitors because they are usually abundant,  especially in conifer stands. Tanoak sprouts often quickly  dominate the vegetational cover after logging or fire. Although  this ability helps reduce soil erosion, tanoak sprouts often  provide severe competition to conifer reproduction and may  suppress it. The thick, stiff, flat, leathery leaves often cover  young conifer seedlings or cover the ground so thoroughly that  conifer seedlings cannot emerge above them (20).

    Propagation of tanoak by grafts or cuttings has not been reported.

    Tanoak sprouts can be controlled by herbicides applied to frills  on the stems, to stumps of freshly cut stems, or to foliage of  young sprout clumps (32).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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John C. Tappeiner II

Source: Silvics of North America

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Seedling Development

With suitable conditions, tanoak  reproduces well from seed. Acorns germinate in a wide range of  environments from oldgrowth stands to recent clearcuts (31).  However, survival of unprotected seed is low in clearcuts due to  heavy predation. The dense shade of virgin forests, and the thick  litter found under tanoaks, madrones, or other hardwoods, do not  hinder germination. Seedlings are common in these conditions.  Tanoak germination is hypogeous.

    A limited number of tests show that germination rates vary from 19  to 80 percent (25). When acorns were planted with pointed end up,  germination was significantly greater (13).

    Almost all natural seedlings emerge in the spring; some  germination may occur in the fall, but only if the weather is  mild and moist. To preserve their viability, tanoak acorns must  either be planted immediately in the nursery in light soil, or be  stratified until spring at temperatures just above freezing.  Seedlings appear about 3 weeks after planting.

    Natural tanoak seedlings have been counted under parent trees left  after the Douglas-fir overstory had been cut. Although 1 year's  acorn crop produced 395 to 940 seedlings per hectare (160 to 380  seedlings/acre) under trees 51 to 66 cm (20 to 26 in) d.b.h., the  efficiency of sound acorns in producing seedlings was only 0.64  percent. Only one seedling grew from 156 sound acorns.

    Many natural seedlings are found in the understory of conifer  stands, which appears to be an ideal environment for reproduction  (29). In southwestern Oregon, seedling survival after 4 years  ranged from 44 to 49 percent in conifer stands whose ages ranged  from 50 to 100+ years (31). In the northern Sierra Nevada, from  17 to 347 new seedlings per acre were present annually during an  11-year period (13). The annual appearance of new seedlings along  with modest rates of mortality resulted in relatively stable  populations of 570 to 3000/ha (233 to 1,215/acre) during these 11  years. However, attempts to establish a plantation of tanoak by  artificial seeding on an exposed site, which had been prepared by  removing vegetation and exposing mineral soil, were unsuccessful  (13).

    Biotic factors contribute to low seed crop efficiency. Although  the acorns have hard seedcoats-the generic name, Lithocarpusfrom the Greek "lithos" meaning rock, and "karpos"  meaning fruit, alludes to the hard acorn-at least 38 species of  animals eat them (2). Principal consumers include 4 bird species,  11 rodent species, deer, bears, and raccoons. Goats, hogs, and  cattle also prevent seedling reproduction by devouring acorns and  browsing tender seedlings.

    Heights of first-year, natural tanoak seedlings, measured from  cotyledons to growing tip, in one study varied from 5 to 21 cm  (1.9 to 8.3 in) and averaged 13 cm (5.2 in), greater than  first-year heights of natural conifers on the same site (24).  After the first year, the seedling growth rate is moderate, less  than 5.0 cm (2 in) per year.

    Tanoak seedlings begin to produce burls below ground at 1 to 2  years of age. Burls develop more quickly on good sites and, in  one study, averaged 25 mm (1.0 in) in diameter in 10 to 12 years  (29). After 6 to 12 years, the original stem dies (even without  browsing or other damage) and a new top is produced that tends to  be more vigorous than the original one. Tanoak seedlings thus  become seedling-sprouts. Top replacement is common, and  seedling-sprouts may support several live stems (29). The tallest  stem ranged from 25 to 150 cm (10 to 60 in) on 20-year-old  seedling- sprouts in southwestern Oregon interior sites. More  rapid development is likely in the coast range and northern  Sierra Nevada forests. Tanoak seedling-sprout ages can be  estimated by counting xylem rings in the stem below the burl, but  there is no reliable relation between top age and/or size and  total seedling-sprout age (29). The growth potential of  seedling-sprouts is low. Forty- to fifty-year-old tanoak  seedling-sprouts, for example, had burls that were only 5.0 to  7.5 cm (2 to 3 in) in diameter. Three years after removal of the  overstory by cutting and burning, they produced clumps of 4 to 6  stems that averaged only 51 cm (20 in) tall.

    Records on the seasonal growth of tanoak are scanty. Some  observations have been recorded in the vicinity of Salyer, CA.  Here, in the Trinity River valley and on the low mountain slopes  up to 610 m (2,000 ft) elevation, tanoak vegetative buds open in  mid-April. From 610 to 1065 m (2,000 to 3,500 ft), buds burst in  mid-May, and from 1065 to 1340 m (3,500 to 4,400 ft), foliage  growth begins in late May. At its elevational. limit near Salyer,  which is about 1370 m (4,500 ft), buds open in early June. Leaves  persist for 3 to 4 years (24).

    The growing season lasts 4 to 5 months in the mountains and  somewhat longer at lower elevations and nearer the coast.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

Tanoak is a heavy  seeder (3). In general, viable seeds are borne in abundance after  the 30th to 40th year (8), although 5-year-old sprouts also have  produced fairly heavy crops. A long dry period at pollination  time helps the setting of acorns. Trees are heavily laden almost  every alternate year, and complete seed crop failures are rare. "Jayhawking"-peeling  the bark from standing trees-has shown that girdling produces  excessively large acorn crops before the trees die. Scanty crops  generally are caused by frosts or by a dry year.

    Mature trees produce the most acorns. One estimate places annual  acorn production of a veteran tanoak 76 cm (30 in) in d.b.h. at  about 454 kg (1,000 lb). Because about 110 acorns weigh 0.45 kg  (I lb), this production is more than 110,000 acorns. Other  estimates showed that trees between 46 and 61 cm (18 and 24 in)  d.b.h. produced 3,900 to 4,600 acorns.

    Insects destroy a significant number of acorns. One study found  insect larvae infesting 51 percent of the acorns. The insects  identified were the filbert weevil (Curculio uniformis) and  the filbertworm. (Melissopus latiferreanus). Other insect  larvae that have been found in tanoak acorns are from the  families Gelechiidae and Pyralidae (5).

    Many immature acorns have been seen on the ground as early as  August 25, but these were probably knocked down by heavy rains.  Mature tanoak acorns drop between September 20 and November 15.  The first acorns to fall are usually insect infested, whereas  those falling later are usually sound. Indians in California  placed a taboo on collecting acorns for food until their medicine  women held a ceremonial festival that celebrated the falling of  sound acorns.

    Because the acorns are large-2.5 to 5.1 cm (1.0 to 2.0 in) long  and 15 to 18 min (0.6 to 0.7 in) in diameter-and heavy, most of  them fall straight to the ground and are found under the tree  crowns. Only a few bounce outward when dropping onto lower  branches or roll for short distances on steep slopes. In one  small study, acorns were counted under trees 46 to 61 cm (18 to  24 in) in diameter at ,rates of 194,000 to 226,000/ha (78,400 to  91,500/acre) (24).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

Staminate catkins are elongate and  erect, 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) long. Blossoms may appear in the  spring, summer, or autumn. However, most tanoaks bloom in June,  July, or August. Trees at lower elevations and near the coast  bloom earlier than trees at higher elevations and farther inland.  The plant is monoecious.

    Almost all the flowers, both male and female, are borne on new  shoots (22), where they grow from the axils of the new leaves.  Flowers also occasionally develop from buds found at the base of  leaves of the previous year's growth.

    Female flowers are borne at the base of erect male catkins. The  profusion of yellowish blossoms that sometimes conceal the  foliage suggested the tree's specific scientific name. The calyx  is pale green; the stamen filament is white; and the anther  yellow.

    The seeds, which are similar to oak acorns, ripen in the second  autumn. Seeds are usually borne singly, in twos, or in threes  (25), but sometimes more are clustered together.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

The form of tanoak varies greatly. In  closed stands, particularly in dense coniferous forests, tanoaks  develop one central axis, narrow crowns, ascending branches, and  long trunks that are clear for 9.1 to 24.4 in (30 to 80 ft). In  this form, tanoak is one of the most stately broadleaved trees in  the West. In open stands, however, especially in association with  Pacific madrone and California black oak, tanoaks are free  branching, the crowns are broad, the limbs horizontal and large,  and the trunks short and thick. The main trunk divides into  several large branches and forms a rounded crown.

    Tanoak is usually classed as medium in size (15). Mature trees are  generally 15.2 to 27.4 in (50 to 90 ft) tall but frequently grow  to 45.7 in (150 ft) (26). The tallest tree reported was 63.4 in  (208 ft) high and 137 cm (54 in) in d.b.h. It was found on the  North Fork of the Little Sur River, Monterey County, CA.

    Mature trees vary from 15 to 122 cm (6 to 48 in) in d.b.h. The  largest diameter of record is 277 cm (109 in), measured on a  tanoak near Kneeland, Humboldt County, CA. This tree was 30.5 in  (100 ft) tall and the crown had a spread of 23.2 in (76 ft) (1).  Tanoaks with the largest diameters generally grow in open stands  where tree heights are lower. Age-height-diameter relationships  in Sonoma County, CA, were as follows (24):

    Age  Height  D.b.h.        yr  m  ft  cm  in    20 to 40  9.1 to 15.2  30 to 50  10 to 23  40 to 9    40 to 100  12.2 to 24.4  40 to 80  25 to 30  10 to 12    70 to 125  24.4 to 30.5  80 to 100  33 to 46  13 to 18    100 to 159  27.4 to 36.6  90 to 120  48 to 61  19 to 24    125 to 180  35.1 to 42.7  115 to 140  64 to 91  25 to 36    150 to 210  30.5 to 26.6  100 to 120  94 to 117  37 to 46    170 to 250  30.5 to 36.6  110 to 120  119 to 152  47 to 60       

    The growth of tanoak has been called slow, moderate, and fairly  rapid. Knowledge about growth rate is limited, for only a few  trees have been measured. Seven trees near Sherwood, Mendocino  County, CA, which varied from 36 to 69 cm (14 to 27 in) in  diameter at 0.61 in (2 ft) above the ground, had from 4 to 8  rings per centimeter (10 to 20/in). At another location, trees 48  years old averaged 25 cm (10 in) in d.b.h. and 10.7 in (35 ft)  tall. Trees 36 to 46 cm (14 to 18 in) in d.b.h. were from 80 to  128 years old, and trees 51 to 152 cm (20 to 60 in) were from 150  to 250 years old.

    It is difficult to ascertain the age of tanoak. As noted earlier,  seedling sprouts in the understory were 50 to 60 years of age and  less than 2 in (6 ft) tall. A tanoak taller than 20 in (60+ ft)  had five stems ranging in size from 10 to 35 cm (4 to 12 in)  d.b.h. and in age from 29 to 94 years (29). It also had four  burls below ground 35 to 90 cm (1.5 to 2.5 ft) d.b.h. in  diameter, with scars of large stems 50 cm (1.5+ ft) which had  died, broken off, and decayed. This tree was likely older than  the 240-year-old conifers in the overstory. When the overstory is  removed, sprouting tanoak forms an even-aged stand above ground,  regardless of actual age.

    Growth of tanoak stands 50 to 60 years old above ground thinned to  six different basal-area densities (19 to 32 m²/ha; 85 to  141 ft²/acre) grew about 6 m³/ha/yr (85 ft³/acre/yr)  for 8 years after thinning (16).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Races    A shrubby variety of tanoak (L. densiflora var. echinoides)  grows near Mount Shasta, on the west slope of the northern  Sierra Nevada, in the central Trinity Alps, in the Salmon and  Klamath Mountains, and northward through the Siskiyou Mountains  into southern Oregon (28).

    The shrub variety occupies a narrow elevational band just above  that inhabited by the tree form. This variety is found on a wide  range of soils including ultrabasics, but generally occurs only  on moist sites (27). On deep, productive soils, especially in the  Sierra Nevada, it forms a dense cover of large clumps that often  become flattened by snow. Stems from such clumps may straggle  downslope for 5 m (16 ft) or more. After cutting or burning,  upright sprout clumps are formed that closely resemble those of  root crown sprouts from tanoak trees in clearcuttings (17).

    Small woody plants with slender, deeply toothed leaves were  discovered in 1962 on the Challenge Experimental Forest, Yuba  County, CA. These plants are believed to be a sublethal recessive  mutation of tanoak and have been named Lithocarpus densiflora  f. attenuato-dentatus (33).

    Hybrids    No hybrids of tanoak are known. Although Lithocarpus comprises  between 100 and 200 species, all but tanoak are native to  southeastern Asia and Indomalaysia (11).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

Tanoak is among the several species in northern and central California that have been affected by the Phytophthora fungus, in what is called “sudden oak death syndrome.” The disease is easily spread by beetles attracted to the sap of the infected trees. Contact with infected roots and wood, and infected soil may be transported on tools, tires or shoes (Brenzel 2001). To keep trees healthy, apply a thick layer of mulch to the root zone area beneath the crown and do not garden or disturb this area in any way. Also avoid frequent irrigation, prune only from June to September (when the fungus and insects are less active), and fertilize if the tree shows signs of deficiency (Švihra et al. 2001). Prunings and firewood from infected trees should be enclosed in heavy, clear plastic for 6 months in order to trap and kill beetles that may emerge and infect nearby living trees (Brenzel 2001). Other pests include aphids, greedy scale, mealybug, oak scale and white fly.

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

There are two varieties of Lithocarpus densiflorus: var. echinoides is a shrub that is a component of chaparral communities, and var. densiflora is a tree form which grows in mixed coastal evergreen forest communities. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Tanoak trees need to be carefully pruned while young in order to develop into a nicely shaped, dense, well-branched tree. The trees should be placed in a spot where they will be protected from extreme temperatures and hot winds, which may burn the leaves during hot, dry weather. Established trees should not be watered unless there are severe drought conditions.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Special Uses

The Indians in California's North Coast Range obtained one of  their principal foods from tanoak. In fact, the main fare of many  Indian communities was salmon and tanoak acorns. The large acorns  were ground, leached, and then prepared as a soup, cooked mush,  or a kind of bread. After being leached, the acorns are said to  have an agreeable acid taste. They also contain a comparatively  large amount of oil. On this account, tanoak acorns were  preferred by local Indians over all other kinds. Ground tanoak  acorns have also been fed to chickens.

    Tannin from tanoak bark has properties intermediate between  chestnut tannin and the usual oak tannin of commerce. The extract  from tanoak bark, however, furnishes the best tannage known for  the production of heavy leathers. For example, it gives excellent  plumping when used to tan sole or saddle leather. The superiority  of tanoak bark extract is attributed to the presence of certain  other acids, such as gallic and acetic, with the tannic acid.  Tanoak tannin has also been used medicinally as an astringent  (24).

    One successful attempt to graft European chestnut (Castanea  sativa) scions to tanoak stumps has been reported from  southern Mendocino County.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Uses

Ethnobotanic: Historically, acorns were the most important staple plant food for Native American groups in the coastal ranges of California. Native Californians harvested, and still harvest today, several species of acorns including tanoak, coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), canyon oak (Q. chrysolepsis), black oak (Q. kellogii), and valley oak (Q. lobata). California tribes are estimated to have harvested from 500 to 2000 pounds of acorns per family per year (Hoover 1977). A single tanoak tree can produce over 200 pounds of acorns in a good year and produces at least a partial crop every year (Baumhoff 1963).

Tanoak acorns were the preferred acorns for the Salinan, Costanoan, Pomo, Yurok, Hoopa, and other groups residing within the trees range (Baumhoff 1963; Merriam 1967; Heizer & Elsasser 1980). The ripe acorns are harvested in the fall. They were spread out in the sun to dry and then stored in baskets or storage bins. Many tribes constructed outdoor storage bins, either above or below ground, to protect the dried acorns from robbing squirrels and chipmunks. The Salinan built outdoor acorn granaries on the ground next to their homes (Mason 1912). The granaries were constructed in a basket-like fashion from white willow twigs that were then covered with grass. The Pomo used tanoak leaves to line aboveground bins that they constructed from redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) boughs (Hoover 1977). The Costanoan and Chumash stored acorns in baskets made from interlaced white willow twigs (Brusa 1975). The baskets were about 1 m in diameter at the bottom and sloped up gradually inward into a cone about 0.5 m with a 0.5 m opening. Hollow tree trunks also served as storage bins (Hoover 1971).

The acorns were pounded into flour as needed. Stone, bedrock, and wooden mortars were used to crush the acorns into a meal. Sometimes the acorns were soaked overnight to help crack open the shells. After soaking, the acorns were removed from the shells and spread out onto open-work baskets to dry. The Salinan cracked open the acorns individually using a small, hard stone hammer and then set them out in the sun to dry (Mason 1912). The dried acorns were then placed into a stone, bedrock, or wooden mortar and pulverized into flour using a long pestle. Some tribes used a hopper mortar basket (a bottomless basket either glued with tar to the stone mortar or held down with the legs) to keep the pounded flour from bouncing up out of the mortar. Mason (1912) notes observations of remnant pitch or asphaltum circles surrounding mortar depressions within the Salinan area. After pounding, acorn flour must be leached to remove the tannic acid. There are various methods for completing this step, but they all include pouring water through the meal repeatedly until all traces of the bitter tannins are washed away. The Salinan placed the finely pounded flour into a specially made leaching basket. The basket was woven closely enough to hold the meal but to allow the leaching water to percolate through (Mason 1912).

The majority of the California tribes, including the Costanoan, Yokuts and Luiseño peoples, leached acorn flour by using carefully constructed basins of clean sand near a stream or river. The flour was leached many times by pouring the water over a bundle of leaves to keep the water from splashing sand into the meal. Other tribes made leaching frames from branches of incense cedar. The cedar leaves kept the meal from washing away while imparting a spicy flavor to the meal (Murphey 1959). Another leaching method was to bury the whole acorns in the bed of a running stream and leaving them for as long as a year (Merriam 1967).

The finely pulverized acorn meal was mixed with water and cooked in a special watertight cooking basket by placing hot, round stones that had been heated in the fire into the basket. The acorn mixture was stirred constantly to keep the rocks rolling around and prevent them from burning the basket. The meal was cooked in this manner to make porridge and also a thick soup called atole. The cooked mixture could be used to make pancakes and breads by pouring it onto a hot, flat rock that served as a griddle. The Salinan baked acorn bread in an earth-oven and made acorn cakes about 8cm in diameter by wrapping them between two layers of grass and cooking them overnight (Mason 1912). The Pomo used to wrap loaves of acorn bread dough in leaves and place it in the coals of a fire to cook (Goodrich et al. 1990). The Yurok made a dry form of acorn bread, baked on hot stones, which kept for a month or more (Merriam 1967).

Tanbark acorns were also used for medicinal purposes such as treating coughs. A single acorn was popped into the mouth and sucked on like a cough drop. The tannins are said to help sooth the throat. Some California tribes made a type of penicillin from acorn meal (Murphey 1959). Moist meal was wrapped and allowed to sit until it developed a moldy film. Then the film was peeled off into a roll, which was stored in a damp place until needed. Pieces of the mold were placed upon boils and other sores to draw out inflammation. The Coastanoan made an infusion from the bark that they used as a medicinal wash for sores on the face and as a mouthwash to treat loosened teeth and toothaches (Bocek 1984).

Whole tanbark acorns with their caps can be strung together to make a musical instrument that is played by twirling it in a special way.

The Wintu made candy from the gum-like sap that they gathered in the fall (Dubois 1935). The Wintu and other tribes used the soot from burnt oak galls to make tattoos (Knudtson 1988).

Wildlife: Tanoaks are important for cover and are used for resting, hiding, and nesting by many wildlife species (McMurray 1989). The trees provide cover for northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus), dusky-footed woodrats (Neotoma fuscipes), arboreal salamanders (Aneides lugubris), and black salamanders (Aneides flavipunctatus). House wrens (Troglodytes aedon), northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), downy woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens), red-breasted nuthatches (Sitta Canadensis), white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis), and brown creepers (Certhia Americana) nest in cavities in tanoak trees.

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) graze on tanoak leaves and acorns. Tanoak acorns are a source of food for black bears (Ursus americanus), chipmunks (Eutamias spp.), California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beechyi), Douglas squirrels (Tamiasciurus douglasi), pocket gophers (Thomomys bottae) and black-tailed deer (Odocileus hemionus). The acorns were once relished by grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), the state emblem of California, which have been extinct in this state since 1924 (Storer & Usinger 1963). Birds that rely on tanoak acorns as a source of food include the Steller’s jays (Cyannocita stelleri), band-tailed pigeons (Columba fasciata), varied thrushes (Ixoreus naevius) and acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus).

Livestock: Ground acorns are sometimes added to chicken feed. Tanoak is considered of low forage value for livestock because of its low palatability due to tannin content. When cattle and other livestock consume tanoak, it is an indication of overgrazing, as the animals will generally only resort to this food source after higher quality forage has been consumed (McMurray 1989).

Erosion control: Tanoaks may be used for erosion control on sites that experience frequent disturbance. The trees help to stabilize soils as they have an extensive root system with a deep taproot and they quickly reestablish after disturbance through sprouting from a lignotuber, which is an underground regenerative organ (McMurray 1989).

Other: Tanoak wood is of high quality, being of good strength and hardness with a fine grain, however the wood is not widely used because of limited supply. Tanoak wood has been used for a variety of purposes including flooring, paneling, decking, plywood, garden tools, baseball bats, and firewood. The bark has high tannin content and was once used extensively by industry in California for curing leather.

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Wikipedia

Notholithocarpus

"Tanoak" redirects here. For the former community in California, see Tanoak, California.

Notholithocarpus densiflorus, commonly known as the tanoak or tanbark-oak, is an evergreen tree in the beech family (Fagaceae), native to the western United States, in California as far south as the Transverse Ranges, north to southwest Oregon, and east in the Sierra Nevada. It can reach 40 m (130 ft) tall (though 15–25 m (49–82 ft) is more usual) in the California Coast Ranges, and can have a trunk diameter of 60–190 cm (24–75 in).

Tanbark-oak was recently moved into a new genus, Notholithocarpus, based on multiple lines of evidence.[1] It is not related to the Asian tropical stone oaks, Lithocarpus, but instead is an example of convergent morphological evolution. The North American tanbark-oak is most closely related to the north temperate oaks, Quercus.

Natural range

Description[edit]

The Notholithocarpus densiflorus leaves are alternate, 7–15 cm (2.8–5.9 in), with toothed margins and a hard, leathery texture, and persist for three to four years. At first they are covered in dense orange-brown scurfy hairs on both sides, but those on the upper surface soon wear off, those on the under surface persisting longer but eventually wearing off too.

The seed is a nut 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long and 2 cm in diameter, very similar to an oak acorn, but with a very hard, woody nut shell more like a hazel nut. The nut sits in a cup during its 18-month maturation; the outside surface of the cup is rough with short spines. The nuts are produced in clusters of a few together on a single stem. The nut kernel is very bitter, and is inedible for people without extensive leaching, although squirrels eat them.

Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides[edit]

Members of populations in interior California (in the northern Sierra Nevada) and the Klamath Mountains into southwest Oregon are smaller, rarely exceeding 3 m (9.8 ft) in height and often shrubby, with smaller leaves, 4–7 cm (1.6–2.8 in) long; these are separated as "dwarf tanoak", Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. The variety intergrades with the type in northwest California and southwest Oregon. Tanoak does grow on serpentine soils as a shrub.

Uses[edit]

Some California Native Americans prefer this nut to those of many Quercus acorns because it stores well due to the comparatively high tannin content. The Concow tribe call the nut hä’-hä (Konkow language).[2] The Hupa people use the acorns to make meal, from which they would make mush, bread, biscuits, pancakes, and cakes. They also roast the acorns and eat them.[3]

The name tanoak refers to its tannin-rich bark, a type of tanbark, used in the past for tanning leather before the use of modern synthetic tannins.

Tanoak is one of the species most seriously affected by "sudden oak death" (Phytophthora ramorum), with high mortality reported over much of the species' range.

Big tree[edit]

Currently the largest known tanoak specimen is on private timberland near the town of Ophir, Oregon. It has a circumference of 26 feet (7.9 m), is about 8.25 feet (2.51 m) in diameter at breast height, and is 121 feet (37 m) tall with an average crown spread of 56 feet (17 m).[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Manos, Paul S.; Cannon, Charles H.; Oh, Sang-Hun (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships and taxonomic status of the paleoendemic Fagaceae of Western North America: recognition of a new genus, Notholithocarpus" (PDF). Madrono 55 (3): 181–190. doi:10.3120/0024-9637-55.3.181. 
  2. ^ Chesnut, Victor King (1902). Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California. Government Printing Office. p. 405. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Merriam, C. Hart 1966 Ethnographic Notes on California Indian Tribes. University of California Archaeological Research Facility, Berkeley (p. 200)
  4. ^ American Forests
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Notholithocarpus

Notholithocarpus densiflorus, commonly known as the Tanoak or Tanbark-oak, is an evergreen tree in the beech family Fagaceae, native to the western United States, in California as far south as the Transverse Ranges, north to southwest Oregon, and east in the Sierra Nevada. It can reach 40 metres (130 ft) tall (though 15–25 metres (49–82 ft) is more usual) in the California Coast Ranges, and can have a trunk diameter of 60–190 centimetres (24–75 in).

Tanbark-oak was recently moved into a new genus, Notholithocarpus, based on multiple lines of evidence.[1] It is clearly not related to the Asian tropical stone oaks, Lithocarpus, but instead is an example of convergent morphological evolution. The North American tanbark-oak is most closely related to the north temperate oaks, Quercus.

Contents

Description

The Notholithocarpus densiflorus leaves are alternate, 7–15 centimetres (2.8–5.9 in), with toothed margins and a hard, leathery texture, and persist for 3–4 years. At first they are covered in dense orange-brown scurfy hairs on both sides, but those on the upper surface soon wear off, those on the under surface persisting longer but eventually wearing off too.

The seed is a nut 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.2 in) long and 2 cm diameter, very similar to an oak acorn, but with a very hard, woody nut shell more like a hazel nut. The nut sits in a cup during its 18-month maturation; the outside surface of the cup is rough with short spines. The nuts are produced in clusters of a few together on a single stem. The nut kernel is very bitter, and is inedible for people without extensive leaching, although squirrels eat them.

Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides

Tanoak Acorn.JPG

Members of populations in interior California (in the northern Sierra Nevada) and the Klamath Mountains into southwest Oregon are smaller, rarely exceeding 3 metres (9.8 ft) in height and often shrubby, with smaller leaves, 4–7 centimetres (1.6–2.8 in) long; these are separated as Dwarf Tanoak, Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. The variety intergrades with the type in northwest California and southwest Oregon. Tanoak does grow on serpentine soils as a shrub.

Uses

Some California Native Americans prefer this nut to those of many Quercus acorns because it stores well due to the comparatively high tannin content.

The name Tanoak refers to its tannin-rich bark, a type of tanbark, used in the past for tanning leather before the use of modern synthetic tannins.

Tanoak is one of the species most seriously affected by Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum), with high mortality reported over much of the species' range.

Big tree

Currently the largest known Tanoak specimen is on private timberland near the town of Ophir, Oregon. It has a circumference of 312 inches, about 8.25 feet in diameter at breast height, and is 121 feet tall with an average crown spread of 56 feet.[2]

References

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Lithocarpus densiflorus

Lithocarpus densiflorus, commonly known as the Tanoak or Tanbark-oak, is an evergreen tree in the beech family Fagaceae, native to the western United States, in California as far south as the Transverse Ranges, north to southwest Oregon, and east in the Sierra Nevada. It can reach 40 metres (130 ft) tall (though 15–25 metres (49–82 ft) is more usual) in the California Coast Ranges, and can have a trunk diameter of 60–190 centimetres (24–75 in).

Although currently included in the genus Lithocarpus, genetic evidence suggests it is only distantly related to the rest of the genus, found in southeast Asia.[1]

Contents

Description

The Lithocarpus densiflorus leaves are alternate, 7–15 centimetres (2.8–5.9 in), with toothed margins and a hard, leathery texture, and persist for 3–4 years. At first they are covered in dense orange-brown scurfy hairs on both sides, but those on the upper surface soon wear off, those on the under surface persisting longer but eventually wearing off too.

The seed is a nut 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.2 in) long and 2 cm diameter, very similar to an oak acorn, but with a very hard, woody nut shell more like a hazel nut. The nut sits in a cup during its 18-month maturation; the outside surface of the cup is rough with short spines. The nuts are produced in clusters of a few together on a single stem. The nut kernel is very bitter, and is inedible for people without extensive leaching, although squirrels eat them.

Lithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides

Tanoak Acorn.JPG

Members of populations in interior California (in the northern Sierra Nevada) and the Klamath Mountains into southwest Oregon are smaller, rarely exceeding 3 metres (9.8 ft) in height and often shrubby, with smaller leaves, 4–7 centimetres (1.6–2.8 in) long; these are separated as Dwarf Tanoak, Lithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. The variety intergrades with the type in northwest California and southwest Oregon. Tanoak does grow on serpentine soils as a shrub.

Uses

Some California Native Americans prefer this nut to those of many Quercus acorns because it stores well due to the comparatively high tannin content.

The name Tanoak refers to its tannin-rich bark, a type of tanbark, used in the past for tanning leather before the use of modern synthetic tannins.

Tanoak is one of the species most seriously affected by Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum), with high mortality reported over much of the species' range.

Big tree

Currently the largest known Tanoak specimen is on private timberland near the town of Ophir, Oregon. It has a circumference of 312 inches, about 8.25 feet in diameter at breast height, and is 121 feet tall with an average crown spread of 56 feet.[2]

References

  1. ^ Manos, Paul S.; Zhou, Zhe-Kun; Cannon, Charles H. (2001). "Systematics of Fagaceae: Phylogenetic Tests of Reproductive Trait Evolution" (PDF). International Journal of Plant Sciences 162 (6): 1361–1379. doi:10.1086/322949. http://www.phylodiversity.net/ccannon/pdfs/manos01.pdf. 
  2. ^ American Forests
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Notes

Comments

Sterile specimens of Lithocarpus densiflorus are often confused with Chrysolepis and vice versa. Nonfruiting material of L . densiflorus is recognizable by the loose tomentose pubescence of the leaves and inflorescences (although the leaves are often glabrate with age). Chrysolepis lacks this tomentose pubescence and has only a tight vestiture of glandular-peltate trichomes, except for some stellate and straight simple trichomes associated with the flowers. 

 The Costanoan used infusions prepared from the bark of Lithocarpus densiflora (no varieties specified) as a wash for facial sores and to tighten loose teeth (D. E. Moerman 1986).

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Comprised of two varieties (FNA 1997; Kartesz 1999).

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