The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

California Black Oak

I found a group of oak trees nestled together.  There are about 8 or 10 trees in this picture.   These trees are native from southern Oregon down to Baja California.  They can grow from 30 to 80 ft.  They typically live 100 - 200 years but some have been found to be up to 500 years old. This tree is a critical species for wildlife and may be the most important food and cover source in the state for wildlife.  This tree occupies more area in California than any other hardwood species.  Cavities in the trees provide dens/nests for owls, woodpeckers, squirrels and the trees even are known as a preferred shelter for the Black Bear.  The acorns constitue up to 50% of the fall winter diet for squirrels and deer.  Fawns survival rates depend on the success of the acorn crop season.  Many animals cache the acorns and those that have been stored or buried are more likely to sprout than acorns that drop on the surface.  This Acorn was also the choice nut for Native Americans when making corn meal. 

This tree is highly adaptable to fire.  While the tops may burn, the trunk stores water and nutrients that usually allows the tree to live through the fire.  In addition, the fire activates the acorn growth.  Indians were known for burning trees to help the crop flourish. 

The picture below is of a string of trees that stretch about a mile in length.  They cross multiple properties and follow a soil line that the trees find condusive to thriving in. 

One last interesting fact, at one point back in the 1960's the state of California considered it a nusense and worked to eradicate the tree, after conservationists studied and provided data to the state they were able to save the tree from destruction.  The Cal Black Oak thrives in poorer quality soil and conditions that the conifers can't thrive in. 

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