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Lithocarpus densiflorus - (Hook.&Arn.)Rehder.

Common Name Tanbark Oak
Family Fagaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woody slopes below 1500 metres[71] on fertile mountain slopes[229]. It is found on a variety of soil types, but requires a humid atmosphere if it is to thrive[82, 229].
Range South-western N. America - Oregon and California.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Lithocarpus densiflorus Tanbark Oak

Lithocarpus densiflorus Tanbark Oak


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Lithocarpus densiflorus is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to May. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Pasania densiflora. Quercus densiflora.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Seed - cooked[94, 95]. The seed was a staple food for several native North American Indian tribes[257]. It contains bitter-tasting tannins and there are various ways of removing them. The fastest is by soaking the ground-up seed in hot water - if the water is changed at least once the tannins should be removed within 12 hours. Traditionally, the seeds were placed in a cloth bag and either buried in swampy ground or suspended in a running stream for a few months. Once the tannins have been removed, the seed is then dried, ground into a powder and can be used as a porridge or can be mixed with cereal flours in baking bread etc[183, 257]. It has a pleasant taste after it has been leached[161]. The seed is up to 25mm long and wide[82, 229]. The seed is valued for its oil[161].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Odontalgic  Skin

The bark is very astringent. An infusion is used as a wash for face sores[257]. The infusion can also be held in the mouth to tighten loose teeth[257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

Dye  Fuel  Oil  Preservative  Tannin  Wood

The bark is exceedingly rich in tannin, yielding up to 29%[11, 82, 123, 171]. It has been used as a brown dye and also to preserve rope that is being used in water[257, K]. Wood - hard, strong, close grained, brittle. It is not commercially important and is used mainly for fuel[82, 229].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a deep fertile soil with medium drainage[200]. Perfectly hardy at Kew[11], trees produced seed at Kew in the very hot summer of 1989[K]. A slow-growing tree in the wild, living up to 300 - 350 years old[229]. Plants usually flower in the spring and sometimes again in the autumn[188]. The seeds take two seasons to ripen[229]. Prolific crops are usually produced every other year in the wild[229].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame[200]. It needs to be protected from mice, squirrels and other seed eaters. The seed has a short viability but can be stored for a few months if kept cool and slightly damp - the salad compartment of a fridge is a good storage place. Germination takes place in the winter or early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If the plants are 15cm or more tall by the summer they can be planted out into their permanent positions. Give them a good weed-excluding mulch and some protection from the cold for their first couple of years outdoors. If growth is not sufficient then grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lithocarpus corneus Tree15.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Lithocarpus edulis Tree9.0 6-9  LMHSNM10 
Lithocarpus glaberJapanese OakTree7.0 6-9  LMHSNM10 
Lithocarpus pachyphylla Tree25.0 -  MHSNM213

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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