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Quercus ilicifolia

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Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Shrubs, Trees, Shrub-like Trees, Deciduous

Light Requirements: sun

Water Use: low

Soil Moisture: dry

Soil Description: acid, poor, sand, gravel/rock

Height: 12'-20'

Bloom Time: May, June

Bloom Color: yellow, red, green

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 5, 6

Additional Tags: attracts birds, colonizing, drought tolerant, fall interest, naturalizing, ornamental foliage, showy fruit

Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)
  • Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)
  • Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)
  • Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)
  • Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)

Pricing & Availability


Quercus ilicifolia

Also known as:

bear oak


scrub oak

Scientific Synonyms:


Quercus ilicifolia is a deciduous shrub, sometimes a small tree up to 20' tall. It tends to form dense thickets, but will have a neat, well-rounded crown when grown as a specimen. The trunks are robust and contorted. The specific epithet "ilicifolia" is in reference to the leaves that resemble those of some hollies. Their top surface is dark green and glossy, while their underside is velvety, ashen and gray-green. Young stems are also densely hairy. Male flowers are in the form of catkins, while female flowers are tiny, inconspicuous spikes that emerge from the leaf axils. The acorns are egg-shaped and up to 3/4 of an inch long. The foliage puts on a showy fall display, turning shades of orange, red and purple.


Bear oak is very shade intolerant. It thrives in poor, dry, sandy or rocky soil. It is slow growing, and non aggressive, forming thickets by seed dispersal rather than vegetatively. Its tap root makes it drought resistant. Blooms May and June. It has a small native range. Zones 5-6


Propagate from seed.

Additional Notes

The acorns are very bitter, and consumed almost exclusively by bears, hence the common name "bear oak".

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: VT


Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Hamamelididae
Order Fagales
Family Fagaceae Beech family
Genus Quercus oak
Species Quercus ilicifolia bear oak