Dwarf Blue Tanoak
Dwarf Blue Tanoak is one of our favorite West Coast native shrubs and one that is undeservedly uncelebrated given how exceptionally stunning it is. A subspecies of the widespread Tanoak endemic to the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon and Northern California that grows to only about 3 or 4 feet in height and forms a dense round shrub. The leaves are an absolutely gorgeous light blue and the new growth emerges bright bluish-pink before fading to gold and eventually light blue.
The flowers are very similar to chestnut flowers and are gorgeous when in bloom, eventually giving way to golden brown “acorns” that are adored by wildlife and humans too if you can leach out the tannins. This plant is TOUGH and wants to be in well-drained, nutrient poor native soils that are very well draining in full sun. Many thanks to the most generous man in horticulture, Sean Hogan, for turning us on to this plant and so many others!
Latin Name: Notholithocarpus densiflorus ssp. echinoides
Site and Soil: Dwarf Blue Tanoak needs 1/2 day to full sun and extremely well-drained soil.
Hardiness: Hardy to at least 0F
Bearing Age: 3-5 years after planting
Size at Maturity: 3-4 ft. in height
Bloom Time: May-June
Ripening Time: August
Yield: 30+ lbs.
Pests & Diseases: Notholithocarpus are susceptible to Sudden Oak Death, a fungal disease that can kill entire stands of oaks, though we’ve not seen it yet in our area.
USDA Zone: at least Zone 6, possibly lower