Evergreen Oak Woodlands or Encinal
These woodlands occur at elevations of 4,500-6,000 feet. Encinal is a Spanish word that roughly means “place of live oaks”. The woodlands are dominated by broadleaved evergreen oaks with an open understory of shrubs and herbs. At lower elevations, the encinal tree layer is open to very open with an herbaceous understory of grasses and low shrubs. At higher elevations the tree layer becomes nearly closed and a layer of shrubs may appear. Encinal trees are usually less than 30 feet tall.
Four dominant oaks occur in variable proportions. Emory oak (Quercus emoryi) and Arizona white oak (Q.arizonica) are more important in the lower encinal, while silverleaf oak (Q. hypoleucoides) and netleaf oak (Q. rugosa) are more important at higher elevations. Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), redberry juniper (J. coahuilensis), and Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides)are also found in the tree layer. This is the most characteristic and widespread of the woodland plant communities in the Sky Islands region. It takes the place of pinyon-juniper woodlands that occur at similar elevations farther north.
Bennett, P.S., M.R. Kunzmann and L.A. Graham. 2004. Descriptions of Arizona vegetation represented on the gap vegetation map. (PDF)