Vulnerability to embolism varies between con-generic species distributed along aridity gradients, yet little is known about intraspecific variation and its drivers. Even less is known about intraspecific variation in tissues other than stems, despite results suggesting that roots, stems and leaves can differ in vulnerability. We hypothesized that intraspecific variation in vulnerability in leaves and stems is adaptive and driven by aridity. We quantified leaf and stem vulnerability of Quercus douglasii using the optical technique. To assess contributions of genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity to within-species variation, we quantified the vulnerability of individuals growing in a common garden, but originating from populations along an aridity gradient, as well as individuals from the same wild populations. Intraspecific variation in water potential at which 50% of total embolism in a tissue is observed (P50) was explained mostly by differences between individuals (>66% of total variance) and tissues (16%). There was little between-population variation in leaf/stem P50 in the garden, which was not related to site of origin aridity. Unexpectedly, we observed a positive relationship between wild individual stem P50 and aridity. Although there is no local adaptation and only minor phenotypic plasticity in leaf/stem vulnerability in Q. douglasii, high levels of potentially heritable variation within populations or strong environmental selection could contribute to adaptive responses under future climate change.