Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Native Plants Of California ~ #7 In A Series



The largest of all North American oak trees, the Valley Oak is found in dense forests, valley savannas and foothill woodlands. It thrives in the hot interior valleys and with abundant ground water, will tolerate long, dry summers and cool winters. This deciduous California native tree can live to be 600 years old.

The bark of mature trees resembles alligator hide. It has deeply lobed, velvety leaves and its arching branches provide autumn acorns for the grey squirrels and woodpeckers.

In 1861, a botanist for the first California Geological Survey wrote this, upon seeing Valley Oaks in Monterey County: "First I passed through a wild canyon, then over hills covered with oats, with here and there trees--oaks and pines. Some of these oaks were noble ones indeed. How I wish one stood in our yard at home....I measured one [Valley Oak] with wide spreading and cragged branches, that was 26.5 feet in circumference. Another had a diameter of over six feet, and the branches spread over 75 feet each way. I lay beneath its shade a little while before going on."

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