Late afternoon at Grandview Point, there's a definite chill in the air and a slight breeze, making my eyes water a bit. The oaks, just past their peak of color, are catching the days last sunrays and leading my eye beyond, into the canyon where the warmth lasts longer. NPS Photo by Kristen M. Caldon Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) are most ofter found growing together with ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa), in somewhat restricted areas in the Grand Canyon National Park on the South Rim and most often, along the edge of the North Rim. The oaks grow in colonies of a few to an average of about thirty individuals, and range in height from a foot to about fifteen feet. The acorns take a year to mature. Being rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, they are on top of the wildlife food list. The high tannin content of Gambel oak doesn't seem to bother the canyon's mule deer who browse on its foliage. Tuber-like roots called lignotubers cause the deciduous Gambel oak to form dense thickets. This unique feature is embedded in the trunk beneath the bark and just below the soil. A swollen lignotuber houses hundreds of buds ready to transform into leafy sprouts. Underground stems called rhizomes also bear dormant buds ready to sprout after fires or heavy browsing by wildlife.
Download 5.2 MB