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Chisos Red Oak

The Chisos Red Oak (Quercus gravesii) is a New Mexico native tree. It is found growing in the Organ Mountains east of Las Cruces in south central New Mexico. It can produce annual growth of up to 3’per year ultimately reaching 30’ - 35′ tall and 25′ wide.

Its large canopy provides dark cooling shade.

It is often found growing on dry hillsides

and other poor soil situations

where it seems to thrive from the very start.

Leaf color is grayish green compared to the Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi).

Leaves often feel thick, tough, and waxy or leathery to the touch.

Leaves turn a brilliant red-maroon,

sometimes yellow,

or orange,

or mixed colors in the fall.
Leaves eventually lose their color and turn a chocolate brown. Chocolate brown leaves often persist through winter into early spring. The spring winds finally persuade the chocolate colored leaves to loosen their grip and fall away from the tree.
The Chisos Red Oak produces acorns that ripen in fall.
In mature trees its bark is quite striking and provides winter interest.

The Chisos Red Oak grows well in valley soils where its tap root may eventually reach ground water. It also does very well in more exposed xeric locations like sandy mesa soils. Leaf structure (color, waxy layer, thickness) may be adaptations that allow it to grow well in xeric landscapes. Of course mulching around the tree and occasional deep watering helps immensely.

The Chisos Red Oak makes a great shade tree with fabulous fall foliage. It has deep roots and can be very long-lived. The Chisos Red Oak is best grown in well-drained soils with low to regular water. This oak is Hardy to USDA zone 5.

Contact Trees That Please Nursery for availability and pricing.

Narrative By:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist

Photos by:
Stephen Sain and
Anna Forester
Store Manager


Anonymous said…
my chisos red oak is almost evergreen shading his leaves that turn a brilliant red color only in spring before new leaves emerge (zone 8,Modena North Italy)

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