An oak is a tree or shrub in the beech family, there are over 600 species of oaks. Oaks leaves are usually deciduous, in warm climates they may be evergreens. The fruit of an oak is a nut called an acorn.

Gambel oaks are common in the southwestern United States around the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. They form in thickets from the creeping underground root systems. Gambel oaks have thick furrowed bark and deciduous green leaves that can turn yellow, orange, or red in the fall. This tree is an important food source for animals such as deer, livestock, squirrels and wild turkeys. The name comes from William Gambel, a naturalist from Philadelphia, who in his travels to the West in the 1840’s, collected and studied specimens of this tree, along with new birds: Gambel’s quail, mountain chickadee, and Nuttals woodpecker. The Gambel Oaks pictures are in Flagstaff.


The live oak is distiguished for being an evergreen oak. The live oak name comes from the fact that evergreen oaks remain green and “live” throughout winter, when other oaks are dormant and leafless. The Angel Oak is on St.John’s Island in South Carolina, it is a live oak tree that is about 500 years old. It is over 65 feet tall, 28 feet in circumference, and provides 17,200 square feet of shade. There is considerable debate about the age of the Angel Oak.  Some contend that it is 1,500 years old, while most believe the 500 year old estimate to be the most accurate. The southern live oak is another evergreen oak that is iconic in the Old South. It is the official state tree of Georgia.

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