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Oaks are often considered keystone species in the diverse habitats they are native to.
There are more than 500 described species of oak in the genus Quercus distributed from cool temperate to tropical latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere where birds, squirrels, caterpillars, fungi, epiphytes, and countless other organisms (including humans!) rely on the precious resources they provide.
Oaks are diverse and include both evergreen and deciduous species of trees and shrubs that can range greatly in size. All oaks are hardwoods, monoecious (bearing male catkins and female flowers on the same tree), and all oaks produce acorns–a primary food source for countless animals in the fall and winter.
Oaks at Hoyt Arboretum
Hoyt Arboretum is home to 60 species of oak from around the world, mostly planted along Oak Trail. There are many beautiful and diverse oaks that thrive in our northern Oregon climate, but only 1 is native: the Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana).
Grouped in section “Quercus” of the genus, the “white oaks” are found throughout North America and Mexico, can be trees or shrubs, and can be evergreen or deciduous. White oaks generally have smooth bark that may become furrowed with age, all have an annual acorn maturation cycle, and none of them have bristle-tipped leaves.
The white oaks of North America are a favored hardwood that continue to serve many purposes for people and wildlife alike. This Five Oaks Tour will explore five different white oak species from distinct regions across the United States.
The Five Oaks Tour
Start the tour at the Visitor Center, 4000 SW Fairview Blvd., and pick up a guide from the front desk.
At each tree stop labelled on this map you will find a sign describing the species, depicting its leaf shape and exact size, its native region, and a fun fact.
This walking route includes paved, compact dirt, and gravel trails with some ups and downs. This is not an all-user route, and we recommend visitors who use mobility devices complete the paved “Visitor Center Loop” to view many amazing oak species.
Track your progress and learn more about each tree species as you go:
The Five Oaks Museum
This tour was created in collaboration with the Five Oaks Museum, located on Kalapuyan land, and the Portland Community College Rock Creek Campus. The museum is named for the Five Oaks Historic Site located just a few miles from the museum building, where five Oregon white oaks serve as habitat and home to native plant and animal species.
Since time immemorial, Tualatin Kalapuyans return to the oaks year after year to harvest acorns and grind them in heavy mortars and pestles. In the 1800s, fur trading and pioneer celebrations took place under the Five Oaks, including the first Fourth of July asserted in Oregon Territory in 1845. Through decades of agriculture and suburbanization, local residents have helped preserve the Five Oaks site for future generations. As some oaks fell, people replanted younger trees. Today, one 500-year old oak still stands, surrounded by family.
Visit the Five Oaks Museum’s exhibition:
Replenish the Root explores the vast oak savanna ecosystems that once flourished in the Willamette Valley, stewarded by Indigenous tribes since time immemorial. Agriculture and urbanization have transformed the landscape, but the trees invite us to examine our intersecting histories and connect with the land we share.
Learn more at: fiveoaksmuseum.org