Habit: can grow as a single tree with a rounded crown or form a dense thicket depending on the availability of water. Older bark is grayish-brown and rough. The leathery textured leaves are dark green with 4-6 deep rounded lobes, 3-5 in (8-12 cm) long. Male flowers are in small greenish red catkins, while female flowers are tiny and in small groups in the axils of emerging leaves. Fruit are single or clumped acorns, usually in pairs and ripening in August or September. Before leaves fall, they turn a brilliant red.
Ecology: common in the Southwest United States in foothills, dry woodlands and montane conifer forests at 3200-9800 ft (1000-3000 m).
Growing Conditions: full sun to partial shade, moist to semi dry, well drained rocky soil, cold hardy.
Gambel oak are great for wildlife, providing food and habitat. Leaf litter produced by Gambel oak has a positive effect on soil nitrogen within the surface.