Posted on 4 Comments

California Black Oak Tree – Our Autumn Nature Study

We have spent quite a number of our outdooor hours observing and learning about oaks. We are blessed with many different kinds of oaks right in our own yard so they are constantly a backdrop for many of our studies.  Here is a link to one of our entries that shows the variety we have: Oak Tree Study.

So what did we do for our Outdoor Hour Challenge on oak trees?

  • A little comparing – leave size and shape
  • Looking for acorns – found very few
  • Talked about how the different tree silhouettes in our yard – oaks are the prettiest

We settled on the California Black Oak for our nature journals, with its large lobed, bristle tipped leaves.

California Black Oak
Quercus kelloggii
Resource to print: USDA Plant Guide

“The California Black Oak is strikingly unlike all other deciduous Oaks in the Golden State, for its broad thin leaves are jaggedly lobed, with the veins running out beyond the leaf margins as fine bristles.”
A Natural History of Western Trees.


We have noticed the woodpeckers that enjoy the tall branches, the Scrub jays that frequent the crown, and we are even thinking this is the tree that the bats use for shelter…not sure. It is a truly abundant food source for much of our local wildlife, including bears.

“…it has one admiring friend, the California woodpecker, who finds its acorns, bitter to our palates, exactly to his taste….This handsome redhead devours what he can hold of acorns, and lays up great stores of them, like a squirrel.”

There is always something to learn and to make note of as we revisit even a common tree to our area.


We are looking forward to observing:

  • The yellow leaves of autumn and then seeing the bare branches.
  • The dropping of acorns.
  • Finding a California Black Oak with acorn holes.
  • In the spring, pink or crimson of the new foliage.

Another successful oak tree study….thanks to our ability to see beyond the ordinary.
Printable notebook page for Extraordinary in the Ordinary. 

4 thoughts on “California Black Oak Tree – Our Autumn Nature Study

  1. It is so interesting to see the variations of the same variety of trees across the country. Your acorns look so different than the ones I am used to.

  2. We recently went on a trip to TN. Our host was very familiar with his trees and nuts/acorns, so we had an impromptu nature study with what we had on hand…which happened to be a sharpie and notebook paper…but it worked. http://themessexposed.blogspot.com/2012/10/unplugged-and-on-farm.html

  3. Dear Barb –

    I just wanted to send you a note and let you know how thankful I am for homeschool moms like you.

    I’ve read both your blogs a little over the years, and even commented a time or two. I’m not outdoorsy or artsy … but I’m trying very hard to change that (even setting aside language arts and math for a few weeks. gasp!)

    … don’t know how I found your Autumn lens, but I did. And the work you put into it, for all of us … just astounds me.

    I only hope that somewhere, someday, I can inspire another weary homeschool mom the way you have inspired me.

    Thank you from the bottom of my homeschool mom heart,
    kathi bailey

  4. Kathi,

    Thanks so much for your really nice comment…made my day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.