Natural Remedies: The Health Benefits of Oak and Elder Trees

The Natural Remedies column talks about the health benefits of oak and elder trees. Includes identification and beneficial properties information for oak and elder trees and an acorn bread recipe.

| June/July 1997

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    Acorns are not eaten raw because the presence of tannin makes them very bitter.

  • 162-020-01i1

The Natural Remedies column shares information about the health benefits of oak and elder trees and foraging for wild medicines. 



Beech or Oak Family (Quercus sps.) (Fagaceae)  

OVERALL SHAPE AND SIZE:Quercus is a large genus of more than 200 species including deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. A few of our common oaks are scrub oak, canyon oak, California or coast live oak, engelman oak, California black oak, interior live oak, and valley oak.

LEAVES: Among the many varieties, the leaves which are always arranged alternately vary in shape from small, hard, oval and toothed, to large, flexible, almost like a maple leaf.

FLOWERS: Oaks are monoecious; that is, they have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The inconspicuous female flowers are small and greenish-brown. They look like small acorns and appear solitary or in a spike in the leaf axils of the season's new growth. The female flower is formed in side a cup of bract-like sepals, which later develop into the acorn's cup or cap.

FRUIT: The oak trees are identified by their fruit, the acorns, which are nuts set in scaly caps. Acorns mature and fall from the trees during September and October.

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