There are 13 species of oaks found in Arizona and they range from 3,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation across the state. The only one I haven’t seen in habitat is the Mexican willow oak (Quercus viminea) found in its northern most range in the Patagonia Mountains. That sounds like a quest to me.
Our native oaks are not very happy in the low desert in and around Tucson. If I wanted a native oak in Tucson, I would go with scrub oak (Quercus turbinella). It’s a shrubby oak, but can be trained up to a nifty little tree. The most popular oaks found in the urban landscapes of Tucson are the non natives southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi), and cork oak (Quercus suber). The southern live oak is the state tree of Georgia and it makes me very grumpy that the downtown streets of Tucson are lined with it. The phrase, sense of place, comes to mind. Maybe more importantly is that non native oaks will not attract as many cool species of insects as a native. They did not evolve together here. We can check back in 10,000 years or so to see if that has changed. Let me know.
Anyway, our native oaks are found not too far from Tucson, so I suggest a hike in the uplands or up into the sky islands to see and celebrate these trees of life.
A couple notes: The book I refer to and quote from is Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy. I recommend it.
The photographs are of Emory oak (Quercus emoryi), a favorite oak of mine, but you knew that.