PlantFiles is getting a new look! Just in time for spring, we're rolling out a new look for the best online plants database. It will also work with your smart phones and mobile devices, so now you can take it with you on garden center visits or botanical garden tours. Questions or comments? Please post them here.

Gambel Oak, Rocky Mountain White Oak
Quercus gambelii

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Quercus (KWER-kus) (Info)
Species: gambelii (gam-BEL-ee-eye) (Info)




20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage


Good Fall Color

Other details:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Flagstaff, Arizona (2 reports)

Clifton, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Shawnee Mission, Kansas

Las Vegas, Nevada

Austin, Texas

Layton, Utah

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 4, 2012, altagardener from Calgary, AB (Zone 3b) wrote:

There are quite a few other species of oaks that are native to Colorado besides Quercus gambelii, according to USDA Plants:
Quercus ajoensis, Q. grisea, Q. havardii, Q. xpauciloba, and Q. turbinella.


On Sep 11, 2010, loomis from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

I acquired min Gambel Oak at the springs preserve during one of their plant sales. I have had mine in my yard for a while now and no problems so far. It doesn't seem to mind the heat and is taking full sun


On Mar 28, 2006, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

This is the only oak one will find growing wild in Colorado. We call it "Scrub Oak," and it grows at intermediate mountain altitudes, between the valleys and the mountain tops, which are dominated by conifers and aspen. Its acorns are an indespensable food source for some wildlife.

Extremely drought tolerant with immeasurable taproots, these can grow back from the bases if cut down and are of a natural habit of a very large, dense shrub, branching near the ground.

In a garden setting, these must be pruned to make more tree-like specimens. Stress to the tree can result in blueing of leaves, mites, or suckering. These are not problems in established plants. Container grown specimens must be treated kindly until they re-develop taproots, and growing them fro... read more