What is a Garry Oak?
Bark is light grey with many splits and ridges, smooth on young stems, breaking into shallow fissures and
long, broad grey or grayish-brown, scaly ridges on older trunks.
Garry Oaks have a high percentage of lateral roots in
the upper soil layers as well as a deep taproot which makes them very wind-firm even
in wet areas.
Garry oak trees have both male (catkins) and female flowers on the same tree. The slim staminate flowers (catkins) are pale yellow tinged with green. The closed pistillate (female) flowers are small, deep red, and covered with whitish hairs, the interior of these flowers is green-yellowish, and they may be single or as many as 5-6 together. Flowers appear with new leaves and extension of twig growth. Flowering is at the fullest when the leaves are approximately half size. The flowers are fertilized in the spring from March to June depending on elevation and latitude. When the leaves approach full size the catkins are withered and on individual trees flowering lasts only about a week. Flowering may be abundant but it is variable between and within stands and locations.
These seeds/fruits mature in one season and fall from the tree in late August to November. Garry Oak acorns are not dormant, they begin to grow right away, producing a long tap root in the fall, but no shoots or leaves are produced until the following spring. Acorns must be kept moist until they germinate (greater than 30% moisture), viability has been greater than 75% in the few samples tested, normally seeds retain viability only until the next growing season.
The mature acorn is smooth and brown, 1.5 to 3 cm (0.5 to 1.25 inch) long, weighing an average of approximately 5g. The acorns are sweet and edible and enclosed for ~1/3 length by a shallow cup of thickened hairy scales at the base. One mature Garry Oak tree can produce thousands of acorns, but acorn production varies by year for each tree, and in some years, a mature tree may produce no acorns at all.