UC Davis Oaks

Image of a valley oak in the UC Davis Arboretum.

The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden is home to one of the largest and most diverse oak collections in the country, focusing on trees from the southwest U.S., Mexico, and the Mediterranean region. Our collection includes about 100 species, varieties, and hybrids. Massive heritage valley oaks (Quercus lobata) line the Arboretum waterway, and about 275 evergreen and deciduous oak trees grow in the 10-acre Shields Oak Grove, at the west end of the Arboretum.

Acorns from Around the Globe

Dr. John M. Tucker was a professor of botany, director of the Arboretum (1965-66 and 1972-84), and a prominent oak researcher. Many of the oaks in Shields Oak Grove were started in the 1960s from acorns collected from around the world for his research. In 2001, Dr. Tucker created an endowment to help preserve the Grove for future generations.

Peter J. Shields Oak Grove

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden staff developed visitor-friendly features in Shields Oak Grove. Staff and volunteers built two new accessible trails and a gathering area at the entrance to the grove in addition to adding interpretive signs, scientific plant labels and native understory plantings to improve bird and insect habitat.

The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program has collaborated with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to create some striking works of art in the oak grove, including the “Oak Family Tree,” a ceramic mosaic mural created by students and community volunteers featuring insects and other animals from each oak’s native habitat.

Preserving Oaks

In California and worldwide, many oak species are threatened with extinction by urbanization, clearing for agriculture, livestock grazing, overharvesting, and global climate change. A recent global study of oaks found 29 species to be critically endangered or endangered and 27 more species to be vulnerable. In Shields Oak Grove, Santa Cruz Island oak (Quercus parvula) and Brandegee oak (Quercus brandegeei) from Baja California are both considered endangered in the wild.

The UC Davis Arboretum is a member of the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC) Multisite Oak Collection. We and our partners have committed to maintain our oak collections at the highest horticultural and museum standards to ensure their long-term preservation for research, teaching, and conservation.

Support Our Oaks

Visit Shields Oak Grove to see these magnificent trees and learn more about oaks and wildlife, oak diversity, and caring for native oaks in the landscape. The grove is located just west of the Gazebo, off Garrod Drive on the UC Davis campus. 

Consider making a gift to support the work of the UC Davis Arboretum and the Arboretum’s oak collection. 

In the News

On June 4, 2011, actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah visited the UC Davis Arboretum as part of nationwide media tour to promote her cause of protecting cork oak forests throughout the world.

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